Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives: Ride Safe There’s a strong positive correlation between motorcycle helmet laws and

helmet usage; that correlation also corresponds to a reduction in motorcycle rider death rates. When Louisiana reenacted its universal helmet law in 2004, usage jumped from 60 percent to 99 percent. Motorcycles are, for a lot of people, an exciting way to travel and see the world; however, they’re a lot more dangerous than cars or other enclosed vehicles. Bikers aren’t shielded from the open road, and that makes them more vulnerable to life-threatening injuries. That doesn’t mean bikers don’t have the same legal protections – and responsibilities – as other motorists. Why Should Bikers Wear Helmets? The Centers for Disease Control has identified several benefits. Helmets: • reduce the risk of death by 37 percent; • reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent; and they • do not reduce visibility or impair hearing. In 2010, the monetary value of helmets became obvious. Though not as important as lives saved, helmets saved $3 billion in the United States that year; if everyone on a bike wore a helmet that year, it could have saved Americans another $1.4 billion. Motorcycle Accidents in Louisiana More than 70,000 Louisianans have registered motorcycles, and still more cruise through every day. Unfortunately, however, not everyone makes it to their destination. In 2010, motorcycle accidents claimed 75 lives and injured 1,478 people in Louisiana, according to the LSU Highway Safety Research Group. Some types of accidents are more common than others. Front-end collusions are the most common, accounting for 1,682 deaths and 19,000 injuries in the U. S. in 2009. Fatal accidents often occur at intersections, when another driver makes a left turn and does not see an oncoming cycle, or misjudges the cycle’s location or speed. Automobile drivers who fail to check their blind spots – or whose vision is obstructed – are also at a greater risk for causing accidents with motorcyclists. Types of Motorcycle-Related Injuries If a motorcyclist is involved, nearly every (98 percent) multiple-vehicle collusion and singlevehicle (96 percent) accident involves some sort of injury to the biker. Head and neck injuries are unfortunately common – which is why states like Louisiana have enacted mandatory helmet laws. Trauma such as this is often fatal, but they often lead to some of the most severe disabilities. Motorcycle accidents may cause: • broken bones;

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internal organ damage; amputation; paraplegia, quadriplegia, tetraplegia, hemiplegia, and/or paralysis; torn ligaments; disfigurement; or wrongful death.

Recovering from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accidents can take months, years, or even a lifetime. There’s even a massive financial toll, considering that injuries can result in: • • • • • • medical bills; rehabilitation; physical or occupational therapy; costs for equipment such as walkers or wheelchairs; lost wages and productivity; and expenses related to treating scars and disfigurement.

Though some people may make the case that wearing helmets can impair their ability to control their bike (which is erroneous), or that being mandated by law infringes upon their right to choose, the risks outweigh the rewards when it comes to choosing not to wear a helmet. Riding without a helmet not only affects cyclists, but also families of those who could be victims and those responsible for handling the costs associated with preventable injuries and deaths. These articles are provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Professional legal counsel should be sought for specific advice relevant to your circumstances.

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