According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14,283 people died in motorcycle crashes from 2008 to 2010. In parsing those traffic fatalities, the CDC examined the effect of state laws requiring the use of helmets for motorcyclists. Illinois is currently one of a small handful of states that does not have a helmet law on the books.
The CDC concluded, not surprisingly, that helmets help to reduce the number of deaths in motorcycle accidents. While 20 states mandate that every person on a motorcycle–whether passenger or not–wear a helmet, only 12 percent of deaths involving motorcyclists without a helmet occurred in those states.
In addition, the CDC found that helmets saved billions of dollars because helmet-wearing riders involved in a crash spent less time away from work and paid less to repair and rehabilitate their injuries.
While helmet use can offer important protection to motorcycle riders, it is not a panacea. By their very nature, motorcycles present dangers that cars do not, and that is borne out by disproportionate statistics that show motorcyclists constitute 14 percent of all fatalities in traffic accidents despite motorcycles making up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles.
Drivers of cars and trucks can do their part to improve the CDC’s statistics by being more diligent in looking for motorcycles on the road. Oftentimes, however, distracted drivers fail to see the small profile of a motorcycle and they pull out into traffic or change lanes only to collide with a biker. The negligent actions of other drivers may entitle injured motorcyclists to receive compensation.
Source: Associated Press, “CDC: Motorcycle helmet laws reduce deaths,” Mike Stobbe, June 16, 2012.