If you regularly ride a motorcycle to work or on the weekends for recreation in West Palm Beach, should you wear a helmet to prevent brain injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident? As you may know, Florida law does not require riders who are over the age of 21 to wear a helmet as long as that rider has an insurance policy that can pay out at least $10,000.00 for injuries sustained in a crash. As such, motorcyclists in and around West Palm Beach often elect to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.
Is there a reason for Florida’s law to change? And even if the law does not change, is there a compelling reason for bikers over the age of twenty-one (21) to choose to wear a helmet even if it is not required by law? To better understand the answer to these questions, we want to take a closer look at some motorcycle accident statistics, and to explore how a motorcycle helmet works.
Getting the Facts About Helmets and Motorcycle Accidents
Do helmets actually save lives? According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are about forty (40) percent effective when it comes to preventing fatal head injuries. Based on a survey conducted approximately fifteen years ago, only fifty-eight (58) percent of riders (in states where helmets are not required by law) are wearing helmets. That number has not improved over the last fifteen years, and may in fact have gotten worse. To be sure, a fact sheet from Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety reported that about fifty-nine (59) percent of people killed in motorcycle accidents in states like Florida—where there is no universal helmet law—were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash died as a result of fatal head injuries.
Some other relevant statistics include the following:
- Motorcycle helmets reduce the financial cost of crashes by about $17 billion each year, and an additional $8 million could be prevented if every motorcyclist wore a helmet;
- Motorcycle fatalities would decline on the whole by more than twenty (20) percent if a universal helmet law were in place in Florida and other similar states;
- 80 percent of Americans favor a universal helmet law; and
- Helmets reduce the risk of a head injury in general by nearly seventy (70) percent.
What Makes Motorcycle Helmets Work?
A report from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) explains that motorcycle helmets are specifically designed to prevent head injuries. To do so, they have four major components:
- An outer shell that is usually made from polycarbonate or another fiber-reinforced composite;
- An impact-absorbing liner that is a “dense layer” of Styrofoam or a similar material that absorbs shock;
- Comfort padding, which helps to keep a biker’s helmet fitted snugly to the head; and
- A retention system (or chin strap), which ensures that the helmet stays in place and works to prevent a brain injury in the event of a collision.
Seek Advice from a West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Helmets can reduce the risk of a traumatic brain injury, but motorcycle accidents can nonetheless result in serious and debilitating injuries. If you have questions about filing a lawsuit, an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney can help you. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to discuss your case.