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Motorcycle Helmets Are Not Always The Law, But They’re Always A Good Idea

Whether your first thought is the deep roar of a Harley or the rabid scream of a Honda, motorcycles are exciting vehicles. Even if you don’t push the engine to its limit on the open highway or weave in and out of traffic on a busy city street, it’s not hard to feel the excitement brought on by the wind whistling past your face and the sheer power rumbling beneath your seat. However, motorcycles also come with a variety of added risks which make caution and safety important considerations.

Safety Issues

As far as safety features go, the biggest difference between a motorcycle and an enclosed vehicle is precisely that enclosure. Automobile cabins are packed with safety features that go far beyond the basics of seat belts and airbags. They also come with special reinforced steel beams and crumple zones designed to absorb and redirect all the force of an impact so that none of it reaches you. Antilock brakes are standard equipment, and the most modern cars have cameras and sensors to tell when a collision may be imminent. Even the headrests which sit a little too far back for comfort are there to prevent whiplash.

By contrast, motorcycles have only one primary safety feature: a lack of seat belts, which means you’re at least somewhat more likely to go flying away from the collision than you are to get your leg trapped under a heavy piece of machinery. At the end of the day, the steel enclosure which prevents you from really getting in touch with the road also protects you from whatever the road may throw at you.

The Helmet Issue

There are 19 states in the Union (plus the District of Columbia) which require motorcycle helmets whether you like it or not, including the entire West Coast and much of the South and Northeast. Most of the rest have an age restriction where you’re allowed to choose whether or not to wear a helmet once you’re somewhere between 18-21 years old. For instance, in Florida your right to decide starts at age 21, although you also need at least $10,000 in health care coverage above and beyond any PIP insurance you may carry thanks to owning a car.

Admittedly, helmets are not a perfect form of protection. It’s really nothing more than an inch or so of insulation between your head and whatever fast-moving heavy objects may collide with it (or which you may collide into), and it’s not like it can protect the rest of your body from injury.

At the same time, though, a helmet is significantly better than no protection at all. Here are a few statistics:

  • • Motorcycle crashes are 26 times as fatal as automobile crashes.
  • • Helmet wearers are 37 percent less likely to die in a collision.
  • • Helmets prevent 67 percent of brain injuries among those who survive a motorcycle accident.
  • • In states where helmets are optional, less than 25 percent of riders wear helmets.

Still, while helmets are proven to reduce deaths and injuries, they can feel confining and restricting, the exact opposite of the point of riding a motorcycle in the first place. It’s for this reason that biker associations fight against mandatory biker helmet laws – to many, the added safety isn’t worth the drawbacks. On the other hand, depending on who you are, the benefits may not be worth the risk to your life.

At All Injuries Law Firm, we know that riding a motorcycle is a dangerous prospect whether or not you wear a helmet, and we know that insurance companies aren’t always happy to pay out everything you need to cover your medical bills. If you live in southwest Florida, particularly around Port Charlotte or Sarasota, we can help you work through the claims process and ensure that your provider is as honest and as forthcoming as you need them to be. Feel free to contact us for a free case review and we’ll do our best to get you back on the road as soon as you can.