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LeachLaw

CDC study shows Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet laws save lives

We have previously written about the unacceptably high number of fatal motorcycle accidents on Tennessee roads. Approximately 114 riders lost their lives in crashes last year alone, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Nationwide, motorcycles make up only about 3 percent of all registered road vehicles, yet motorcyclists comprise 14 percent of those who die in auto accidents. There are many reasons to account for this, including the fact that the motorcycles are smaller and offer less crash protection. However, another important factor is the disparity in state motorcycle helmet laws.
Tennessee is one of just 19 states requiring all riders to wear motorcycle helmets. The number was sitting at 20 until Michigan changed its universal helmet law earlier this year.
A new study about fatal motorcycle accidents was recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the study, states with universal helmet laws have significantly fewer motorcyclist fatalities than those with less restrictive laws. They also incur lower societal costs related to crash fatalities and injuries, including medical expenses and lost work productivity.
The CDC study was based on nationwide data about motorcycle fatalities occurring between 2008 and 2010. According to the study results, fatality rates of bikers not wearing helmets were five times higher in states that do not have universal helmet laws.
There were 14, 283 motorcyclist fatalities during that time period studied. Just over 6,000 of those bikers were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Among fatalities in this group, just 12 percent occurred in the 20 states with universal helmet laws.
Many motorcyclists oppose helmet laws, often on the principle that it should be each rider’s choice to wear one or go without. However, statistics overwhelmingly show that helmets save lives. Therefore, whether or not it’s the law, wearing a helmet is one of the best decisions any rider can make.

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