April .1 .2014

Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Lives

The numbers don’t lie. “Fewer Helmets, More Deaths” says the New York Times in an article on changing motorcycle helmet use across the United States.

While fewer people are dying in car accidents, motorcycle deaths have spiked across the U.S.

Experts link the increase in motorcyclist fatalities to changes in state helmet laws. Texas and Arkansas repealed their motorcycle helmet laws in 1997, starting a deadly trend across the States.
Florida followed a few years later, making helmet use only mandatory for riders under 21 or for riders without adequate medical insurance.

Here’s what happened in Florida after the law was changed:

  • Helmet use went from close to 100% to only 50%
  • Motorcycle fatalities increased by 71%
  • Motorcycle fatalities under age 21 increased by 300%
  • Non-helmeted fatalities jumped from 9% to 61%
  • Head injuries for riders increased 80%

Despite the increase in injuries and fatalities, eight more states are considering changing their mandatory helmet laws.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Canada

Mandatory helmet laws for Canadian motorcyclists started coming into effect in the 1960s. Experts say the laws contribute to our country’s impressive record in motorcycle safety.

In B.C., motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet that meets DOT, Snell M2005/M2010, or ECE safety standards. Riders without one of these certified helmets will face a $138 fine, doubling to $276 for a second offence.

Motorists Beware

With the warmer Spring weather, more and more motorcyclists are back on the road. It’s important that motorists make every effort to share the road responsibly. A few reminders:

  • Motorcycles have the same privileges of any vehicle on the road. Give them a full lane of travel.
  • Motorcycles are harder to spot when making a left turn or changing lanes. Be cautious at intersections and clearly signal your intentions.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuver. Predict sudden, evasive actions.
  • Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room to provide the motorcyclist with an outlet in case they have to make an emergency move.

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