There has been a recent trend to repeal or modify mandatory helmet laws for those who ride motorcycles over the course of the last decade. The justifications for this trend are varied ranging from concerns about individual autonomy and personal choice to theories that motorcycle helmets may increase the likelihood or severity of a motorcycle accident. The statistical evidence in states that have eliminated mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle riders suggests that mandatory helmet laws do save lives.
Some argue that motorcycle helmets cause more accidents by impairing visibility and hearing. While actual impairment of either of these senses would make it more likely that a rider would be involved in a motorcycle accident, there is simply no evidence that motorcycle helmets have this impact. Studies conducted all the way back in the 1970s to test this theory found that motorcycle helmets do not impair a rider’s vision or hearing. Since this impairment of perception is the key argument behind the notion that mandatory helmet laws make motorcycle collisions more likely, there would appear to be no basis for this conclusion.
Advocates of repealing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws also argue that wearing a helmet can increase the risk of catastrophic injuries in the form of spinal cord damage. The position that motorcycle helmets can cause cervical neck and back injuries is based on a 1984 study. While the studies conclusions were defensible at the time, helmets are substantially lighter than when the study was conducted. A more current study conducted by John Hopkins found that those who where motorcycle helmets are 22 percent less likely to suffer a spinal cord injury.
There is also an overwhelming body of evidence that motorcycle helmets reduce the likelihood of head injuries and fatalities. Approximately 41 percent of those killed in motorcycle accidents are not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle accident fatalities. The results of a Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System also study found that motorcycle helmets were 67 percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries and that the risk of suffering a brain injury was 400 percent higher when not wearing a helmet.
The bottom line is that motorcyclists have few options to protect themselves from negligent drivers. Even if a motorcycle rider does everything perfectly, the lack of safety equipment associated with a motorcycle places riders at a serious risk of injury. At the Nahon Firm, PLC, we will fight to help you win your Tennessee motorcycle accident case. We treat our clients with the utmost compassion and respect. Call us today and speak with a Nashville motorcycle accident attorney to discuss the details of your case at (615) 324-2000.
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