Will a new study change the dialogue on universal helmet laws?
When it comes to motorcycle helmet laws here in the U.S., there is truly nothing close to a consensus. Indeed, 19 states -- including Georgia -- currently have universal helmet laws (all riders must wear helmets), 28 states have partial helmet laws (only some riders must wear helmets) and three states have no helmet law whatsoever.
As if this patchwork of laws wasn't confusing enough, there are actually ongoing debates among lawmakers in many of these 19 states as to whether their universal helmet laws should be repealed and replaced with partial helmet laws.
It's worth noting that the number of states with a universal helmet law actually sat at 20 as recently as 2012 before lawmakers in Michigan decided to take decisive action.
Specifically, they repealed the state's 35-year-old universal helmet and replaced it with a one allowing riders to go without helmets provided they are over 21, buy a minimum of $20,000 in extra medical insurance and have held their license for a minimum of two years.
Interestingly enough, a group of researchers at a Grand Rapids-based hospital recently published a study in the American Journal of Surgery comparing the number of motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities in Michigan before and after the repeal of the universal helmet law.
After examining both hospital records and state transportation records during the motorcycle seasons (April - November) in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, they determined the following:
- Crash scene fatalities increased more than fourfold for riders
- Hospital fatalities tripled for riders
- Length of stays in the Intensive Care Unit increased for riders
- The severity of head injuries increased significantly among riders
It will be interesting to see whether this study causes lawmakers in Michigan to reconsider the recent repeal of the universal helmet law or whether it has any affect in the aforementioned universal helmet law states where repeal discussions are still alive and well.
In the meantime, if you've been
in a motorcycle accident caused by the reckless actions of a motorist, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about seeking justice.