Could Mandatory Helmet Laws Protect Riders in Atlanta Bicycle Accidents?


March 29, 2012

The link between motorcycle helmet use and mandatory helmet laws has been firmly established. Prior to widespread enactment of helmet laws, helmet use was far from universal. Helmet use rates rose to an all time high when most states enacted mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists.

The numbers have started to slump again as some states have begun to repeal mandatory helmet laws at least for some riders. The bottom line is that regardless of one’s position on the appropriateness of mandatory helmet laws they have been successful in increasing the number of motorcycle riders who wear helmets even if some begrudgingly comply.

Although bike riders face similar risks when involved in a bicycle accident in Atlanta, there has been much less an emphasis on enacting mandatory helmet laws for bicycle riders to prevent them from suffering serious head injuries and wrongful death in Atlanta bicycle accidents. There are only three states that do not have some sort of mandatory motorcycle helmet law. By contrast, 29 states have absolutely no helmet laws that apply to bicyclists. Even in the states that have some form of mandatory helmet law to reduce the severity of injury in cycling accidents, these laws only apply to a portion of the population, usually children under a certain age. This is somewhat surprising given that 20 states in the U.S., including Georgia, require ALL motorcyclists to wear helmets.

The danger posed by bicycle collisions with motor vehicles is similar to the risk of injury in a motorcycle accident. Some of these similarities include the following:

  • Both lack stability because they are only two-wheeled vehicles.
  • They are both harder for motorists to see because of their smaller size.
  • They are both less forgiving when riders must make sudden evasive maneuvers.
  • Neither vehicle has any safety protections like seatbelts, airbags or protective metal vehicle frames.

Admittedly, bicycles are not capable of the same sort of speed as motorcycles, which decreases both the likelihood of accidents and can mitigate the seriousness of injuries. Nonetheless, the degree of risk for bicyclists is similar to that of motorcyclists when they are struck by a motor vehicle. It is strange that not a single state has a law that mandates helmet use by adult bicyclists. Most people presume that helmets are unnecessary except for children, street racing or downhill mountain bikers.

This assumption fails to account for the risk created by placing a bicycle in the path of a motor vehicle that weighs at least 3,000 pounds. A bicyclist that is on a slow, leisurely bike ride along the beach or through the streets of the Atlanta suburbs faces a serious risk of suffering a head injury without a helmet in a bicycle-car collision. Head injuries that occur in a bicycle collision, like those suffered in motorcycle crashes, are rarely minor incidents.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are usually catastrophic injuries that affect many aspects of a person’s life and that impact a bicycle accident victim’s entire family. These serious bicycle accident injuries can leave a victim permanently disabled so that the victim requires long-term rehabilitative care and therapy. The financial costs associated with the medical care and rehabilitation for a TBI can be overwhelming. This staggering cost combined with disability from employment can pose monumental financial obstacles for the families of Atlanta bicycle accident victims.

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a Georgia or Atlanta bicycle accident, the Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing Georgia bicycle accident victims for over 27 years. Our Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers 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 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: Personal Injury

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