Motorcycle helmets save lives. Wear yours when you ride.
Motorcycle riders understand the joy of the open road. The feel of the wind whipping by. The smell of trees, of grass, of morning dew. The way the bike leans into every curve and hugs the road like a close friend. There is a sense of freedom, of liberty, of pure joy, that comes from experiencing our great nation from the seat of a motorcycle. And more and more people are discovering the pleasure of riding than ever before, with motorcycle ownership at an all-time high.
Yet bikers know that freedom comes at a price and that riding has its risks. One of the smartest and easiest ways that bikers can lessen their risks and help keep them alive in case of a crash is to wear a motorcycle helmet.
Motorcycle helmets have been taking a hit in recent years as several state legislatures have gutted mandatory motorcycle helmet laws on claims that they inhibit personal freedom and deprive states of tourism dollars. But the truth is that motorcycle helmets save lives, and state laws requiring them result in many fewer lives lost to motorcycle accidents.
Florida paints a sad picture of what happens when bikers don't don helmets. Florida repealed its mandatory helmet law in the year 2000, instead requiring that motorcyclists carry $10,000 worth of injury insurance if they ride without a helmet. The result? According to the Orlando Sentinel, the rate of motorcycle fatalities nearly doubled shortly after the law's passage, from 515 in 1997-1999 to 933 in 2000-2002.
Michigan is one of the most recent states to gut its 35-year-old helmet law, in spite of findings by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that, had the helmet law been repealed in 2009, the average cost per motorcycle accident would have jumped 48 percent.
Motorcycle accident death rates have close to doubled in the U.S. in recent years, from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,502 in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. By contrast, auto accident deaths are at a sixty year low. Safety technology, like seat belts, and tough laws against driving while impaired are given a lot of the credit for lowering car crash deaths. It's just plain smart to practice good motorcycle safety as well, starting with wearing a good quality protective helmet.
Sure, life is a risk. But bikers can lower their risk by practicing safety when they ride. Wearing a motorcycle helmet is one of the best ways to protect life and limb in case of an accident. So please, wear yours when you ride. Your loved ones may thank you for it someday.