A new study conducted by Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids shows the negative impact of weakened helmet laws. In 2012, the state of Michigan repealed its universal helmet law and replaced it with one that allows riders over 21 that meet required standards of training, experience, and coverage to ride without helmets.
The study reviewed data from 4,700 motorcycle trauma patients that were seen at 29 Michigan trauma centers, covering three years before and after the new helmet law. The researchers found that after the change in the helmet law, facial injuries, skull fractures, and other head injuries related to motorcycle accidents doubled.
Overall, the rate of these injuries increased by 46 percent when the law changed. Under the universal helmet law, the head and facial injury rate was 25.5 percent. However, after the law was weakened, it rose to 37 percent. Soft tissue injuries increased by 56 percent and there was a 28 percent increase in fractures as well.
During the six years covered in the study, the proportion of motorcycle trauma patients who chose to ride without helmets more than doubled starting at 20 percent and rising to 44 percent. Motorcyclists who did not wear a helmet were about twice as likely to experience injuries to the head and face compared to those who were wearing a helmet.
There have been previous studies that showed helmets to be an effective safeguard against injury for motorcyclists by preventing nearly 40 percent of fatal injuries and 13 percent of nonfatal serious injuries. Despite this, a third of motorcyclists choose to ride without a helmet. Meanwhile, in states that do not have universal helmet laws, the figure is even higher.
Severity of Motorcycle Injury Statistics
The Michigan study, featured in the June issue of The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal, found that riders without helmets suffered from various types of injuries with significant increases in facial injuries, including fractures of the cheekbones, scrapes, bruises, and facial cuts. In a news release from the journal, the study’s lead author, Dr. Nicholas Adams, urged legislators at the state and federal level to establish universal motorcycle helmet laws.
Michigan’s partial helmet law was modeled after that of Pennsylvania’s, whose helmet requirements were weakened in 2003. The University of Pittsburgh did a study in 2008 which documented the changes in accident rates and found that in the two years following the repeal in Pennsylvania, helmet use fell from 82 percent to 52 percent, head injury hospitalizations increased by 42 percent, and after the repeal, acute care for injuries related to motorcycles increased to an astounding 132 percent.
Dr. Adams still hopes for reversing the statistics of the study stating, “There is data that shows that when a universal helmet law is re-established, helmet use goes up and injuries go down.”
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If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by the negligence of another driver, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. At McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC our team will investigate your case and fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Call 215-569-8488 today to speak with an experienced Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm. You can also contact us online.