While drivers who are focusing on a conversation with a vehicle passenger, driving home after a night of drinking at a local bar or speeding down the highway to get to work on time all pose a serious danger to other motorists, the risk is especially acute for motorcyclists. Although motorcycles offer a fuel efficient and exciting form of transportation, they offer virtually no protection from drivers of cars, trucks or SUVs who are not paying attention to the roadway. Those who travel by motorcycle are 28 times more likely to die in a collision than occupants of passenger vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Although motorcycle helmets can prevent a rider’s head from impacting with the hard surface of the roadway, far too many motorcyclists elect not to wear helmets. In Kentucky, motorcycle helmets are required for novice riders under the age of 21 and those holding instructional permits, but many other riders suffer severe head injuries resulting in brain damage, impaired cognitive functioning and even wrongful death because they are not wearing a helmet. Our Louisville motorcycle accident attorneys encourage all riders to wear helmets because they substantially improve the ability of riders to survive a motorcycle crash without devastating injuries.
Statistical evidence strongly supports the contention that motorcycle helmet use reduces the risk of motorcycle accident victims suffering serious injury or death in a motorcycle wreck. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), motorcycle helmet use reduces the risk of fatalities by 37 percent for riders and 41 percent for passengers. The NHTSA reports that during a recent twelve-month period motorcycle helmet use saved the lives of more than 1,800 riders, and over 800 more would have survived had they been wearing a motorcycle helmet.
Kentucky is one of a number of states that repealed its universal helmet law and experienced increased motorcycle accident fatalities. According to GHSA data, the percentage of riders and passengers who wore motorcycle helmets declined appreciably in the states that repealed their motorcycle helmet laws. Predictably all of the states that repealed their motorcycle helmet laws also experienced a rise in the number of motorcycle crash fatalities.
Some who object to universal motorcycle helmet laws contend that helmets may actually increase the risk of a collision because they impair a rider’s vision and hearing. However, the NHTSA sponsored a study that examined the extent to which a helmet might impair these senses for motorcyclists. The study found that motorcycle helmets did not significantly impact vision or hearing. Vision was not obscured because riders in the study naturally rotated their head slightly further to compensate for the negligible decline in lateral vision. This slight difference in the degree to which riders turned their head did not increase the time needed to check for traffic when executing a lane change. The researchers also found that the ability of riders to hear auditory warnings and hazards was also not impaired. In fact, the study found that helmets could have the opposite impact by reducing engine and wind noise.
Although Kentucky no longer has a universal helmet law, the decision to wear a helmet at all times when riding a motorcycle can prevent catastrophic brain injuries or even fatalities. If you are involved in a motorcycle collision on the streets or highways around Louisville, our Kentucky motorcycle accident lawyers at Murphy & Associates PLC are committed to obtaining compensation for those who are injured by negligent and reckless drivers. If you or a family member suffers serious injury or a loved one dies in a motorcycle crash, we invite you to call us for a free initial consultation at (502) 203-0167 to learn how we can help!