There has been a long-standing debate about motorcycle helmet laws in the United States. Each side has its own compelling reasons for whether or not they support helmet use by motorcyclists. However, the statistics provide some valuable insight into the controversy. In the state of Texas in 2016:
- There were 496 motorcycle accidents that resulted in fatalities. Of that number, 217 were wearing helmets and 263 were not. The youngest victims were two 11-year-old children. One was driving and one was a passenger. Neither were wearing helmets. The oldest victim was 80 years old and was driving without a helmet.
- There were 2,008 motorcycle accidents that resulted in incapacitating injuries. Of that number, 1,031 were wearing helmets and 907 were not. The youngest victim was 3 years old and not wearing a helmet. The oldest was over 99 years old and not wearing a helmet.
- There were 3,620 motorcycle accidents that resulted in non-incapacitating injuries. Of that number, 2,074 were wearing helmets and 1,439 were not. The youngest victim was 1 year old and not wearing a helmet. The oldest was 88 years old and not wearing a helmet.
While the number of injuries, both incapacitating and non-incapacitating, is higher for those who wore helmets, many experts say that the helmets likely protected the rider or driver from greater harm. Although there is no definitive way to measure this assertion, the evidence does indeed point toward the probability that it is correct.
The Argument for Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Experts, including healthcare providers, public safety officers, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) present a great deal of persuasive evidence regarding the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets. CDC statistics show that in 2015:
- 1,772 lives were saved because of helmets
- 740 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets
- Risk of death was reduced by 37% because of helmet use
- Risk of head injury was reduced by 69% because of helmets
- If all motorcyclists wore helmets, it would save the U.S. more than $1 billion
With such a strong focus on lives saved and quality of life preserved, it is hard to argue against this. The truth is, motorcycle helmet use does keep riders and passengers safe. Many on the opposing side of this argument don’t disagree with that.
The Argument Against Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Some groups that oppose mandatory helmet laws, including the American Motorcycle Association, say that “mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes.” Most do not deny that helmets can save lives. However, they do delve into more ethical issues, and the points that they raise are worth considering. Autonomy is a significant factor in this debate. With “my body, my choice” as a common mantra in many legal debates, those who oppose helmet laws wholeheartedly agree.
Riders feel that the government has no right to tell them what they can do with their bodies – even if it means saving their own life or preventing injury. This makes for a strong case based on how the law as a whole views this philosophy and applies it to other cases. Paternalism, on the part of the government, is another concern. In a time when big government is frowned upon, the notion that the government can get so far into your personal business that they can fine you for not wearing something on your body that they mandate, is alarming.
Texas Law on Motorcycle Helmet Use
Texas motorcycle helmet law requires that all motorcycle riders under 21 years of age must wear a helmet. For riders older than 21, they are not required to wear a helmet if:
- They have successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course, OR
- They are covered by a health insurance policy that provides them with medical benefits for injuries if they have an accident while riding or operating a motorcycle
In Texas, it is a secondary offense to fail to wear a motorcycle helmet. This means that a police officer can’t stop a rider just to see if they have fulfilled either of the requirements that allow them to ride without a helmet.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, The Cagle Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our talented, experiences attorneys will give you the support and high caliber representation that you need. Call us today at 888-353-3619 or visit our website and complete our contact form. The longer you wait, the longer you delay resolution of your claim and the less likely you are to get an optimal, positive outcome of your case.