The trend among some states has been to repeal decades-old helmet laws. As a Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Lawyer, these helmet laws that are getting repealed is outrageous! Florida is an example of why universal helmet laws are so important and how repealing them costs lives.
Florida repealed its mandatory helmet law in the year 2000 and instead, required that motorcyclists carry $10,000 worth of “injury insurance” if they ride without a helmet. That paltry concession has made little difference to the thousands of helmetless bikers who have died since that date. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the rate of motorcycle fatalities nearly doubled shortly after the law's passage, from 515 in 1997-1999 to 933 in 2000-2002.
Sadly, Florida has not been alone in its misguided policy switch. In spite of the obvious safety benefits, states across the country are loosening helmet laws. In 1972, forty-seven states required motorcycle helmets. Yet as of 2011, according to Consumer Reports, only 20 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws on the books. Motorcycle fatalities in these states dropped after the laws were enacted and conversely, fatalities have rapidly increased in states that have repealed such laws.
Michigan is one of the most recent states to gut its 35-year-old helmet law. Advocates for the law's repeal cited personal liberty and a boost to tourism dollars as rationale. They apparently ignored findings by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that, had the helmet law been repealed in 2009, the average cost per motorcycle accident would have jumped 48 percent.
Motorcycle accident death rates have close to doubled in the U.S. in recent years, from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,502 in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This number is especially tragic when considering the encouraging news that auto crash deaths are at historic lows, largely due to seatbelts and safety technology.
There can be no doubt that universal helmet laws are effective. As of 2010, 98% of motorcyclists in helmet law states wore them while in states without such laws; only 48% of riders wore helmets. I'm all for personal liberty, but I'm also a firm believer in personal responsibility. Bikers everywhere should take the personal responsibility to protect themselves and their families from avoidable tragedy, and all states should have helmet laws on the books.
No one can predict when a motorcycle accident might occur. Oftentimes, collisions occur without notice or any warning whatsoever. Indeed, crashes between cars and motorcycles occur because people simply don’t look for and often don’t see motorcycles on the road. Do you want to take that chance? You cannot protect what you don’t see---unless you take advance preparations to protect yourself. While on a motorcycle, there is no better protection than your helmet
Many people think that if you get hurt in an accident due to the fault of another, then “no big deal”---- they will pay for all of your injuries and damages. Not true. Under AZ law, if you sustain injuries that are later determined could have been prevented if you had been wearing your helmet, a judge will instruct a jury that they can find you partially at fault for your injuries that are proven to have occurred from the lack of helmet use, and may decline to award you money for any medical expenses or pain and suffering related to those injuries.
Do the right thing every time.