Feb 06 2016

Rider’s Choice or Responsibility? Helmet Laws

Helmets are proven to save lives and money, and universal helmet laws are the most effective way to increase helmet use.  Helmet use has been shown to reduce the likelihood of fatal injury in a motorcycle crash by approximately 37 percent and to reduce the likelihood of brain injury by approximately 67 percent. Moreover, helmet use undoubtedly increases among motorcyclists driving in states with universal helmet laws. Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. have universal helmet laws, 28 states have partial helmet laws that require helmet use by young riders, and three states have no helmet law. States with universal helmet laws, 12 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet, compared to 64 percent in states with partial helmet laws and 79 percent in states without any helmet law at all.

Notwithstanding the significant life and cost saving impact of motorcycle helmets, a 2014 New York Times article, “Fewer Helmets, More Deaths,” noted the recent trend among states to repeal universal helmet laws in response to pressure from anti-helmet motorcycle advocacy groups. When universal helmet laws are repealed, “the number of fatalities starts to rise immediately.” Nevertheless, some anti-helmet motorcycle advocacy groups argue that “use or non-use [of helmets] is connected with a chosen lifestyle” and claim that universal helmet laws infringe on “their right as adults to make their own decisions,” despite having little or no data or legal authority to support their view.

In response to this trend, some states are developing a new and innovative type of partial helmet law intended to prevent injury and protect the public’s health while respecting the rights asserted by motorcyclists to wear or not wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle.  These proposals, referred to as the “Rider’s Choice” Partial Motorcycle Helmet Law would allow motorcyclists to choose when registering their motorcycle whether to pay the standard registration fee of $15, which would require the registrant to wear a helmet when riding, or to pay an increased fee of $692 that would allow the registrant to ride without a helmet; the rider’s choice would be reflected in a validation sticker affixed to the rider’s license plate. The increased fee reflects the actual costs to most states for injuries and deaths of non-helmeted riders.   Advocates of the bill explain that the proposal “allows motorcyclists to choose whether to wear a helmet or not and also makes riders without helmets responsible for the actual costs of choosing not to wear a helmet.”

We have seen and represented many motorcycle riders who suffered life changing injuries that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.  Consider contacting the Motorcycle accident lawyers at William Rawlings & Associates.  They are award winning attorneys named Top Utah Personal Injury Lawyers.  Put our award winning team on your side to protect your rights after a motorcycle accident.