Why You Should ALWAYS Wear a Helmet While Motorcycling
Michigan used to be one of the states to have a universal helmet law requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet while riding. That changed in April 2012 when the law changed to only require motorcyclists under 21 years of age to wear a helmet. If you’re 21 or older and want to ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Michigan, you also have to carry insurance with at least $20,000 worth of first party medical benefits and to have either held a motorcycle certification for two or more years or passed a state-approved motorcycle safety course.
Currently, 28 states have partial helmet laws and another three states have no laws at all regarding helmet use for motorcyclists. Although the majority of states do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, really should be worn even if you aren’t legally required to do so.
Many motorcyclists don’t like wearing helmets because they feel like helmets obstruct their vision and hearing, therefore actually causing injuries rather than preventing them. Other motorcyclists think they’re only risking hurting themselves by choosing not to wear a helmet. But these claims have been debunked time and time again.
The numbers don’t lie: helmets do save lives. Motorcycle accidents are more likely to cause serious injuries or death than car accidents because cars provide greater protection for the driver and passengers. Helmets give motorcyclists some much needed extra protection. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle reduces the risk of death by 37% and reduces the risk of head injuries by 69%. In 2010, 41% of motorcyclists who were in fatal motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets. That year, helmet usage saved 1,500 lives and an additional 700 lives could have been saved if riders had been wearing a helmet. Proper helmets that meet standards set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT) do not interfere with a motorcyclist’s vision or hearing.
In addition to saving lives, wearing helmets saves money. States with a universal helmet law see 4 times greater economic benefits for every registered motorcycle than states with partial or no helmet laws. In 2010, the United States saved $3 billion because of helmet usage by motorcyclists and could have saved $1.4 billion more if more people had been wearing helmets. The average total of medical bills resulting from an accident with an unhelmeted motorcyclist is $310,000. Not only do accidents involving unhelmeted motorcyclists result in astronomical medical bills, which can drive up the cost of insurance for other people, the total economic impact of lost productivity totals over $12 billion.
Leaving helmet usage up to individual riders is simply not an effective way to encourage helmet usage. Statistics have shown that partial helmet laws aren’t very different from having no helmet laws at all. Since partial helmet laws apply only to people in a certain age range, partial helmet laws are difficult to enforce because police officers would have to pull over every motorcyclist they see riding without a helmet to verify their age, taking their time and attention away from dealing with more pressing matters. Many minors realize these laws are hard to enforce and ride without a helmet anyway. In states with a partial helmet law, 60% of minors fatally injured in motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets, compared to 22% in states requiring helmets for all motorcyclists.