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Motorcycle Helmets: Important Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”)

Wearing your helmet while operating or riding a motorcycle is extremely important. Whether the law requires you to wear one (e.g., Missouri) or not (e.g., Kansas), wearing a helmet saves lives, protects your head from serious injury, and saves on medical costs.

In January 2008, NHTSA published "Traffic Safety Facts" and encouraged every state to adopt and enforce universal helmet laws. It argued that, "Motorcycle helmets provide the best protection from head injury for motorcyclists involved in traffic crashes. The passage of helmet use laws governing all motorcycle operators and passengers is the most effective method of increasing helmet use."

To support its position, NHTSA provided a list of key facts illustrating the significant dangers associated with riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet:

  • In 2006, 4,810 motorcyclists died and approximately 88,000 were injured in highway crashes in the United States.
  • Per mile traveled in 2006, a motorcyclist is approximately 37 times more likely to die in a crash than someone riding in a passenger car.
  • Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.
  • An unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to suffer a nonfatal injury than a helmeted motorcyclist when involved in a crash.
  • NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmets reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent.
  • A Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES) study found that motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries and that unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in crashes were three times more likely to suffer brain injuries than those wearing helmets.
  • NHTSA estimates that from 1984 through 2006 helmets saved the lives of 19,230 motorcyclists. If all motorcycle operators and passengers had worn helmets during that period, NHTSA estimates that 12,320 additional lives would have been saved.
  • A study conducted at the University of Southern California, which analyzed 3,600 traffic crash reports covering motorcycle crashes, concluded that wearing helmets was the single most important factor in surviving motorcycle crashes.
  • A 1994 study by the National Public Services Research Institute concluded that wearing a motorcycle helmet does not restrict a rider's ability to hear auditory signals or see a vehicle in an adjacent lane.
  • All motorcycle helmets sold in the United States are required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, which establishes the minimum level of protection a helmet must afford each helmet user.
  • Helmet use laws governing all motorcycle riders (universal helmet laws) significantly increase helmet use and are easily enforced because of riders' high visibility.
  • Repeal of State universal helmet use laws has resulted in fewer riders wearing helmets according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey, from 2000 to 2006,

For additional information, read our article, "WARNING:  Motorcycle Helmets Not Required in Kansas. Why You Might Want To Consider Wearing One Anyway!"

As the statistics make clear, the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet has devastating effects for those involved in motor vehicle collisions.

If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, call our office right away and learn what you must do to protect your rights. We have been protecting injury victims against insurance companies since 1995, and we put you FIRST. Let our expertise get you the compensation you deserve. Don't gamble with your case: Call Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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