How much protection do helmets provide a motorcyclist in an accident? Do they make a difference?
Laws across the country may be inconsistent, but there is evidence riders should wear a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that motorcycle helmets save lives.
Some states require helmets for all riders. Others, including Pennsylvania, have alternative requirements. Other states do not require helmets at all.
Pennsylvania’s helmet law
In 2004, Pennsylvania changed its helmet law, allowing a motorcycle helmet exception. The state requires everyone under 21 on a motorcycle (operators and riders) to wear a helmet.
After operators reach 21, they do not need to wear a helmet if they meet certain requirements. After two years of motorcycle experience or after you complete the approved course, you can choose not to wear a helmet.
A 2018 PennDOT study found that your best option might be wearing a helmet. The study said:
- There are more than 800,000 registered motorcycles in Pennsylvania.
- Over 2,700 of those motorcyclists were involved in crashes
- There were 2,400 injuries and nearly 160 deaths.
According to another study, by the NHTSA, an estimated 37 out of every 100 motorcyclists in accidents would be less likely to die if they were wearing a helmet. The NHTSA study reported that helmets reduce the risk of death by over 40 percent. Traumatic brain injuries are three times more likely for riders in accidents who do not wear helmets.
Whenever you get on a motorcycle, there is a risk. You can never count on another driver’s care and safety. Out of all the dangers for motorcyclists, you can limit some of them by wearing a helmet.