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Do Motorcycle Helmets Lead to More Motorcycle Accidents?

January 26, 2011

Many states have enacted mandatory helmet laws in an attempt to reduce motorcycle accident fatality rates. Few people dispute that a rider wearing a helmet is more likely to avoid serious head and facial injuries or fatalities. Studies have shown that helmets increase the survival rate in motorcycle accidents by 29 percent. A rider is approximately 27 times more likely to die in a crash than someone riding in an automobile, and a rider not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury.

Many argue that whether one should wear a helmet is more than an issue of personal choice because it has been estimated that universal helmet use would result in a savings of more than $2 billion per year in health care costs. However, some contend that any reduction in head injuries and fatalities is offset by a corresponding increase in motorcycle accidents linked to the reduced vision and hearing associated with motorcycle helmets. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested this theory. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been representing those who suffer serious injury or wrongful death in Georgia motorcycle accidents for over 37 years. Whether or not you support mandatory helmet laws, the results of the study are interesting.

The vision part of the motorcycle test involved riders being instructed to turn their head and check the adjacent lane upon hearing a signal from a vehicle following behind them. The test subjects were instructed to turn their head to check for the vehicle before making a lane change. The degree of head rotation required to see the vehicle in the adjacent lane was measured and compared between riders wearing helmets and those that were not. Results showed that 19 of 23 riders compensated for any reduction in lateral vision by simply turning their head a little more, which involved a negligible difference in time. The conclusion of the study was that helmets did not require a noticeable increase in time to check for traffic in the adjacent lane and did not result in any real impairment in vision.

The hearing portion of the test involved the ability to hear a signal from an approaching vehicle with the sound of the signal being varied in volume. There was even less of a difference between results for those wearing helmets and those who were not wearing helmets. Although it became harder for all test subjects to hear the signal as speed and wind noise increased, there was no difference in ability to hear the approaching vehicle regardless of whether a helmet was worn.

Many motorcycle enthusiasts continue to resist wearing motorcycle helmets. There is little doubt that motorcycle helmets can definitely save lives and reduce serious head injuries. This study provides evidence that any decrease in hearing or vision resulting from helmet use is not sufficient to offset the reduction in the seriousness of injuries or fatalities in motorcycle accidents when a helmet is worn. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, is committed to providing the people of Georgia with information designed to prevent motor vehicle accident injuries and fatalities. Sadly, Georgia motorcycle accidents are sometimes unavoidable, but if you or someone you love suffers serious injury or wrongful death in a Georgia motorcycle accident, Montlick and Associates is prepared to fight for your rights so that you can obtain fair compensation.

Our experienced Georgia motorcycle accident attorneys are available to assist clients 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, we 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 and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24 hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.