May is ‘Motorcycle Awareness’ month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages everyone to share the road and urges cyclists to make themselves visible to others.
A brief history of helmet laws and why they vary from state to state
In 1966, the national Highway Safety Act mandated each state enact universal helmet laws in order to receive federal highway construction funding. In 1975, under the authority of HSA, the Secretary of Transportation was about to impose penalties upon the states of California, Illinois and Utah for non-compliance, when lobbyists successfully pressured congress to stop the assessment of penalties on states lacking universal helmet laws. By 1980, a majority of states had repealed the universal mandated laws, favoring a unilateral approach to legislation.
As of 2016, three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, are without legislation regulating helmets. Nineteen states, along with the District of Columbia, have statutes mandating helmets for all cyclists. The states and districts include:
Alabama, Mississippi, Oregon, California, Missouri, Tennessee, District of Columbia, Nebraska, Vermont, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina
The remaining states have passed legislation that takes one or more of the following factors into account:
- operator experience
- operator age
- passenger age
- proof of medical insurance
- cycling horsepower
States laws for helmet use as they stand currently in 2016, can be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Statistics favor ‘gearing up’ with helmets and bright clothing
Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate:
- Helmets saved the lives of more than 1,600 motorcyclists in 2013
- 4,668 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents while over 88,000 suffered personal injuries in 2013.
- Since 1997, motorcycle deaths have more than doubled
- Motorcycles are only 2 percent of the registered vehicles nationally, but motorcyclist fatalities are 5 percent of traffic fatalities each year.
- The percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders involving fatal accidents is higher than intoxicated drivers.
Helmets minimize injuries and reduce the likelihood of long term brain trauma.
The extent of Indiana’s helmet law requires passengers and motorcycle operators seventeen and younger wear a helmet. However, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) advocates protective clothing as the only defense a cyclist has against injury. Reccomendations include a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 compliant helmet, heavy-duty jacket and pants, boots, gloves, and eye protection.
Experienced Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers
Motorcycle enthusiasts and bicyclists enjoy the same legal rights as every driver on the road, i.e. the right to compensation for injuries, loss of wages, impairment, pain and suffering and all other remedies available by law. (Learn more about jury bias) For more than 85 combined years, motorcycle accident attorneys and wrongful death lawyers, Don and Charlie Ward, have represented plaintiffs injured in motorcycle accidents and the families of cyclists killed because of another driver’s negligence.
The personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm receive no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.
By Charlie Ward