New Evidence of the Cost Associated with Repealing Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws


October 23, 2013

The national trend toward repealing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws has led to a growing debate about the degree to which mandatory helmet laws actually reduce the frequency, severity and cost of motorcycle accident injuries.  Recent motorcycle helmet law repeals have taken many forms, but the majority allows riders over a certain age to operate a motorcycle without protective head gear provided the person complies with minimum requirements for insurance coverage.  While there may be philosophical and political objections to such laws, there is new evidence supporting the increased medical costs that result from eliminating laws requiring mandatory motorcycle helmet use by riders.

The new study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) confirms other studies that suggest rescinding compulsory use of helmets when riding motorcycles does increase the medical costs associated with motorcycle crashes.  The HLDI analyzed the impact of the repeal of the universal helmet law in another state after the state limited the requirement to riders under the age of 21.  The new motorcycle helmet law permits riders over 21 to elect not to wear head protection provided they either complete a safety course or hold a motorcycle license for more than two years.  Riders who wish to opt out of wearing a helmet also must carry a minimum of $20,000 in insurance coverage.

The HLDI used three measures to evaluate whether the more liberal helmet law resulted in an increase in motorcycle accident claims.  The study involved examination of the frequency, severity and total amount paid out on claims.  The results of the research revealed that motorcycle accident claims increased by all three measures following the enactment of the less restrictive motorcycle helmet law.  Following the legislative change, the number of claims increased by ten percent while the severity of claims increased 36 percent.  The overall increase in claims, which includes consideration of both the change in the frequency and amount paid out in individual claims, rose by more than fifty percent.  The study also controlled for the higher level of insurance limits that resulted from the change in the law.

While the controversy over individual autonomy versus public safety will continue, the study suggests that the repeal of universal motorcycle helmet laws may result in more serious injuries and fatalities.  Although the requirement that riders who elect not to use helmets satisfy requirements for insurance coverage may mitigate the public health care costs associated with more liberal helmet laws, our experienced Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates urge all riders to wear helmets to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries and motorcycle accident fatalities.

If you or someone close to you is injured in a motorcycle crash, our Georgia motorcycle accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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