Do You Need A Helmet for Safety?
Relative to the number of registered
motorcycles, states with mandatory helmet laws had 12.5% more accidents and 2.3%
more fatalities than free choice states for the 14 year period 1977-90.
(Accident and Fatality Statistics, analyzed by A.R. Mackenzie, M.D.)
Fact: There is no discernible difference in motorcycle accident or fatality rates between states with mandatory helmet laws and those which allow for freedom of choice. In fact, states which support voluntary use routinely
achieve accident and fatality rates equal to or better than states with mandatory helmet laws for all riders. (American Motorcycle Association, 1995) "It is concluded that: 1) motorcycle helmets have no significant effect on probability of fatality; and 2) past a critical impact speed, helmets increase the severity of neck injuries." (Dr. Jonathan Goldstein, Bowdoin College)
Fact: Helmets are minimally effective in preventing most injuries. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report to Congress, the CODES Study, 1995)
Automobile accidents account for 45.5% of all head injured patients and are responsible for 37.1% of all fatalities involving head injury. (The Journal of Trauma, 1989) Fact: There are no appreciable differences found relative to fatality rate, severity of injury, hospital stay, and discharge status between motorcycle
accident victims who wore helmets and those who did not. (Arizona's Governor's Office of Highway Safety Study, 1990)
Does Not Wearing A Helmet Increase Costs?
Fact: Helmet use is not associated
with overall injury severity, discharge status, or insurance status. (University
of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, June, 1992) Fact: Injured
motorcycle operators admitted to trauma centers had lower injury severity scores
compared to other road trauma victims. They accrued lower hospital charges.
They were less likely to rely on Medicaid and Medicare, and they had about the
same level of commercial or private insurance as other road trauma victims.
(University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, June, 1992) Fact:
The average inpatient charge for a helmeted motorcyclist receiving a brain
injury was equal to that of an un-helmeted motorcyclist receiving a brain
injury. (NHTSA CODES Study, 1995) Fact: The average inpatient charge for a
helmeted motorcyclist not receiving a brain injury was approximately $1,000 more
than that of an un-helmeted motorcyclist not receiving a brain injury. (NHTSA
CODES Study, 1995) Fact: Helmet use has no impact on the cost of injury after it
has occurred. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CODES Study,
1995) Fact: Motorcyclists are no more dependent upon public sources for medical
costs than motor vehicle operators. (NHTSA, CODES Study, 1995)
Why Does The Government Care?
* It is not the role of government to protect one from oneself. The Declecration Of Independence states that all men are, "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Being a free citizen of this country means being free to live our lives as we see fit, provided that we do not physically harm the person or property of another. It means bearing the responsibility of one's choices and decisions. Motorcyclists have shown that they are no less responsible for bearing the consequences of their choices as any other vehicle operator. * It is not the role of government to protect people from the emotional effects of others' choices. If this were the case, laws would have to be enacted against everything that has a potentially negative emotional effect on others, such as divorce and death! The circumstance in which a person is injured in an accident, be it in a car, truck, or on a motorcycle, is unfortunate, however operating a car, truck, or motorcycle is a legal activity. The only way to completely eliminate these situations would be to outlaw operating all motor vehicles. * In the absence of any convincing data demonstrating that helmets increase the survivability of an accident, or any reliable research showing that
helmets reduce societal costs, it must be concluded that the state has no compelling interest in mandating helmet use by all motorcyclists. * Responsible adults should be entrusted by the state to make certain personal safety decisions, and the right to decide whether or not to wear a helmet should be among those choices.
* Society's role is not to mandate personal safety, but rather to provide the education and experience necessary to aid us in making these decisions for ourselves.