Compared with cars, motorcycles are a rather dangerous way of traveling. A 2007 estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that the death rate per mile traveled was about 37 times the rate of cars. Whereas car crash fatalities have decreased every single year in the last 10 years, the number of motorcycle deaths increased sharply over the same period, more than doubling up to 2008 and only dropping in 2009.

As experienced auto and motorcycle accident attorneys, counting several big motorcycle fans in our staff, we have always urged clients and the Florida public to wear safety helmets when riding their powerful bikes. It is not just that we have witnessed the consequences of terrible bike crashes; we also look at all the facts before forming an opinion.

Are helmets effective? Just like safety belts in cars, motorcycle helmets reduce the fatality rate by 37 percent and the likelihood of a traumatic brain injury by two-thirds.

Do helmets have disadvantages? Claims that helmets reduce peripheral vision and hearing or increase the risk of neck injury are unfounded, as more than a dozen studies have shown. Even full coverage helmets do not limit the biker’s vision, as he tends to compensate restriction of lateral vision by head rotation.

How do helmet laws influence helmet use? Mandatory helmet use laws have proven to drastically reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities. In 2000, when Florida’s universal helmet law was weakened to exempt riders aged 21 or over with medical insurance coverage of at least $10,000, an NHTSA study found that the death rate rose by about 25 percent.

Does mandatory helmet use have other benefits? It may be surprising at first sight, but not illogical that mandatory helmet laws lead to a decline in motorcycle thefts. After all, thieves steal a motorcycle impulsively and would attract police notice if they weren’t wearing a helmet. A study in 19 Texas cities showed a 44 percent reduction of bike theft. Studies have shown similar results in three European countries.

Do helmet laws impact health care costs?
In 2002, 25 studies collected and reported by the NHTSA “consistently found that helmet use reduced the fatality rate, probability and severity of head injury.” These studies further evidenced that helmet use reduced the costs of medical treatment, length of hospital stay, necessity for special medical treatments and probability of long-term disability. In Florida, immediately after the weakening of Florida’s universal helmet law in 2000, admissions of bikers with head, brain and skull injuries jumped 82 percent during the 30 months after the law became effective. Less than one quarter of the medical costs of riders not wearing a helmet would have been covered by their insurance.

If you have been involved in a car or motorcycle accident in North and Central Florida, call the Daytona Beach attorneys of Johnson & Gilbert PA today toll free at (800) 556-8890 and locally at (386) 673-4412 or fill out the form on this page for a free consultation.