motorcycle accident on
Hill Road this week, while the first in
for some time, is the third such statewide fatality in recent months.
to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between
2001 and 2005 the number of motorcycle fatalities in Rhode Island
increased each year with a total of 14 deaths last year. Nationally in
2005 there were 4,553 fatal motorcycle accidents on U.S. roadways.
Some people argue that such tragedies could be avoided, or at least
lessened, if the state required all riders to wear motorcycle helmets.
The argument goes that if all automobile drivers and passengers are
required to wear their seatbelts, why aren't all motorcyclists required
to wear helmets. Well, consider this: the NHTSA also reports that eight
of those 14 motorcyclists killed last year in
were wearing helmets. Six of them weren't.
By nature of the vehicle, a motorcyclist who crashes has a greater
likelihood of being injured than someone involved in an automobile
accident. In a car, aside from airbags, there other assorted barriers
keeping you from hitting the road. On a motorcycle, there are your
clothes and that's about it. If you're going down on the pavements, it's
going to hurt. If you go down wearing a helmet it might hurt less but
there's no guarantee you're going to walk away unscathed.
The law in
requires all motorcycle passengers to wear helmets but for the operator,
helmets are optional. Many riders choose to wear safety helmets anyway
but many don't. Some riders argue that wearing helmets decreases their
peripheral vision and, in addition, their ability to hear what's going
on around them - a couple of factors that could arguably contribute to
an accident on a motorcycle.
However, state law mandates individuals take a motorcycle safety course
before they can legally obtain a motorcycle license in Rhode Island,
something required in order to operate a motorcycle in this state.
Such safety courses are a good idea and should be required but forcing
all operators strap on helmets isn't going to decrease the number of
statewide or national motorcycle accidents or fatalities. Everyone on
the road, whether you're behind the wheel or the handlebars, needs to be
conscious of their surroundings and the traffic laws of the roads you're