NTSB Recommends National Helmet Law
According to a September 11th press release, the NTSB recommended that motorcyclists should be required to not only wear a helmet, but a specific kind of helmet namely a FMVSS 218 compliant type. These helmets are designed with a hard outer shell, an impact-attenuating liner and a retention system to protect the head.
The NTSB reported that motorcycle fatalities have increased 127 percent in ten years, over 4,800 riders died in crashes in 2006 and that 10% of all highway fatalities involve a motorcycle.
While the NTSB does not have authority to pass such a law on its own, it urged state governors and legislatures to implement helmet laws in accordance with their recommendations. They also recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) implement plans and guidelines.
State laws vary
State laws vary on helmet use as there is no national requirement. Currently, only 20 states (and the District of Columbia) require riders to wear a helmet. Another 27 states have partial laws that require either minors or passengers to wear a helmet and three states do not have any helmet requirements at all.
Helmet laws vs. education
Consumer groups differ on whether requiring riders to wear a helmet will improve safety records. Some believe that the requirement is long overdue. Others believe that improved education, for the rider and for automobile drivers, is a better solution.
According to Claude Wyle, a member of the Advocate Law Group, who handles many motorcycle accident cases, I think its a combination of the two. I am pro helmet law, but this is not too popular with the bikers as they are a pretty pro freedom group of folks. Still, for the sake of society, I believe that helmets should be required because we have to pick up the tab when a biker gets hurt.
Wyle, who is an avid motorcyclist himself, has seen how devastating motorcycle accidents can be. A brain injury not only costs the taxpayer for rehab and disability payments, but we also lose a potentially very productive member of society. Injuries such as brain injuries cost this country more in productivity each and every day than lawsuits ever could. The lack of safety and the resulting injuries in industry and generally is a terrible burden on our people.
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