How Do Helmets Affect The Outcome of Motorcycle Accidents?

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP March 27, 2015

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation and recreational activity for thousands of riders. Head injuries are one of the common injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents and the one that most often leads to death. Attorneys who help clients injured from motorcycle accidents see first-hand what happens when motorcycle helmets are not used. The controversy surrounding the repeal of helmet laws has yielded two distinct sides regarding the requirement of helmets. The lawyers who handle motorcycle accidents point out that there are numerous independent studies that report the same facts – helmets do save lives by helping riders survive motorcycle accidents.2

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

According to recent motorcycle accident statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 80% of all motorcycle accidents in the United States result in rider injury or death. In addition, there are an estimated 55,000 motorcycle-related injuries and 2,200 fatalities every year.1 Motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to die in an accident than those who drive cars and 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury. Of all cases involving riders injured in a motorcycle accident, those wearing helmets are 29 percent less likely to be fatally injured, making helmets the main way to actually survive a motorcycle accident.1

Motorcycle Laws Today

Motorcycle helmets are repeatedly found to save the lives of riders involved in accidents. Wearing helmets while riding could prevent even more deaths, according to attorneys who handle motorcycle accidents. States with helmet laws have lower fatality rates than states without such laws. Yet public demand has caused many helmet laws to be repealed.

Lawyers who help clients injured in motorcycle accidents note that when helmets are no longer required, voluntary use drops by more than half, and fatalities go up. Only 50% of riders in states without helmet laws actually use them, as opposed to 90% in states with helmet laws. As a result, fatality rates related to helmet use are 10 times higher in states without helmet laws.2 The proof is obvious – helmets saves lives.

The Facts About Motorcycle Helmets

Attorneys who handle motorcycle accidents often see cases involving serious injuries or death that might have been prevented if the rider had worn a helmet. While some riders believe that motorcycle helmets are responsible for serious neck and head injuries, the statistics show otherwise. A properly fitting, full-face helmet has not been proven to impair rider vision or hearing. Crash statistics of states that have repealed their helmet laws specifically support all these facts.1 For these reasons, the NHTSA and other safety organizations continue to recommend the use of motorcycle helmets – even if it is not the law.2 These organizations support the continuation of universal motorcycle helmet laws in states where they exist.

Regardless of personal opinion, motorcycle helmets are proven to reduce the severity of injuries and save lives. Riders should use helmets at all times, whether there is a law in their state or not. Knowing the injuries that can result from motorcycle laws, helmet laws are supported by lawyers who represent clients injured in motorcycle accidents; they would like to see helmet usage laws exist in every state. The facts are clear – helmets save lives.

1 Motorcycle Helmets: The Facts of Life, NHTSA

2 NTSB Safety Compass: When States Repeal Helmet Laws, 2/09/15