Motorcyclists putting helmets on to protect against head injuryHere is an interesting statistic; did you know serious brain injury or trauma resulting in long-term, not short-term, disability is more common among motorcyclists injured in states without universal helmet laws? This finding comes from a recent research study. The research study went on to say that it found motorcyclists living in states without helmet laws were more likely to die in the hospital emergency room from their injuries due to a traumatic accident too!

Back in the year 1995, the United States Congress passed legislation removing financial disincentives for states without universal helmet laws for their citizenry. Unfortunately, since that time, many states have repealed these laws or changed them to "partial use" motorcycle helmet laws. One example of this is requiring only riders under the age of 18 to use motorcycle helmets. Approximately, at the date of this writing, three states currently have no motorcycle helmet laws at all, approximately 27 states have "partial use" motorcycle helmet laws, and approximately 20 states have universal motorcycle helmet laws. Now, to investigate whether state motorcycle helmet laws had any kind of influence or effect on the type or severity of injuries motorcyclists sustained, medical doctor, Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben, director of the Center for Rural Emergency Medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and his medical colleagues looked at research data from approximately 33 states that represented 80 percent of all US hospitalizations for the year 2001.

Research Study Results by Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben, M.D.

Dr. Coben concluded his research study by finding approximately 16 percent of motorcycle riders hospitalized in states without universal motorcycle helmet laws had more severe head/brain injuries, compared to 11.5 percent of those in states without these motorcycle helmet laws. Motorcycle riders from states without universal motorcycle helmet laws were 41 percent more likely to sustain the most severe type of brain trauma injury and also were significantly more likely to die in the hospital or to be discharged into long-term medical care. This result only helps support the state's right to protect its citizenry by having mandatory helmet laws and California is one such state that mandates this requirement. This is for good reason too.

However, California's mandatory motorcycle helmet law is not without its critics. Yet, it can be seen as a public health issue. Here is a quote from Dr. Coben: "We understand that many people view this as an individual rights, freedom issue, but as a practicing physician I see the impact that these personal decisions have not only upon individuals but also upon their family and their community," Coben told Reuters Health. "States are struggling with Medicaid budgets and how to constrain health care costs, and we think, if you excuse the pun, that this is a no-brainer," Coben added. "These are cases that are quite preventable and for a young person that has a severe brain injury, that person could be on the Medicaid payroll for 50 years and have hundreds and thousands of health care dollars consumed."

The above is to point out the controversy with mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, and the need to protect people from brain damage accidents.  Also, seeing the issue from a respected medical doctor who sees the results of head injuries from motorcycle accidents definitely helps to shed some realistic light on the issue.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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Dave Thompson 05/12/2015 07:42 PM
I think everyone that rides a motorcycle should have to wear a helmet. They help prevent serious brain damage, so why wouldn't you want to wear one. I think those that say they are not fashionable are crazy. I'd rather have my head intact than look fashionable to be honest.
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