Can Rising Motorcycle Fatalities Be Blamed on a Lack of Helmet Laws?

The number of fatal motorcycle accidents rose in 2007 for the 10th consecutive year, hitting 5,154, 7 percent higher than the 2006 total. Meanwhile, car fatalities fell by 8 percent and light truck fatalities fell by 3 percent, "pushing the overall death rate [for motor vehicle accidents] to a historic low," The New York Times reports. The share of motor vehicle deaths caused by motorcycle crashes has more than doubled since 1997, from 5 percent to 13 percent. Although advocates of helmet laws will be inclined to blame their repeal in several states for the rising motorcycle fatalities, the chief culprit recently seems to be higher gas prices, which have encouraged people to take advantage of motorcycles' vastly superior fuel efficiency:

Motorcycle ridership appears to be rising even as the total miles for all vehicles drops....The highway safety authorities say that about 75 percent more motorcycles are registered today than 10 years ago. They suspect each motorcycle is ridden more miles, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it does not have a reliable measurement of use.

The lack of such data makes it difficult to tell how much of an increase in fatalities following repeal of a helmet law results from less helmet wearing and how much results from more riding. The Times avers that "ridership has probably become more dangerous mile for mile," but without reliable information on miles ridden, it's impossible to know for sure. Assuming the Times is right, less helmet wearing is not the only explanation:  

Safety officials say many of the [newer] riders are middle-age or older men who rode when they were young, gave it up as they raised children and have recently gone back to the bike. "They think they still have the same reflexes," said James Port, the safety agency's deputy administrator.

Motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous. While wearing a helmet reduces the risk of certain injuries, research suggests the overall impact on fatalities is modest. The unimpressive numbers are one reason motorcyclists have been so successful at defending their right to decide what, if anything, to wear on their heads. "We are the only industrialized country in the world where there is an organized effort to weaken or repeal motorcycle helmet laws," complains Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Is that a sign of backwardness or a point of pride?

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  • Elemenope||

    More people using donor-cycles, more people dying on them.

    Makes sense to me.

  • Paul||

    Gas prices are directly responsible for the increase of motorcycle ridership.

  • ||

    Utilitarians are knob-polishing tools.

  • ||

    Can Rising Lawnmower Fatalities Be Blamed on a Lack of Lawnmower Laws? No.

  • ||

    No helmet: Automatic assumption that you are a donor.

    If you want the medics to check to see if you're from one of those wacky religions that says you can't ever have your stuff removed before you're buried? Wear a helmet.

    It's not 100% Libertarian, but hey. We can say that their organs are part of the commons or something and kick that discussion down the road a ways.

  • RP||

    "Gas prices are directly responsible for the increase of motorcycle ridership."

    Gas prices have become a stronger influence in peoples' decisions to ride motorcycles than they used to be. The riders are the ones who are directly responsible for their increase in ridership.

    /end nitpick

  • ||

    cell phones are responsible too. more people using cell phones while driving means more people not paying attention and killing motorcyclists.

  • ||

    18 year olds on 'busas may also contribute.

  • Nigel Watt||

    As long as I don't have to pay for their care, what business is it of mine if somebody doesn't want to wear a helmet?

    s/helmet/do drugs/smoke/burn their house down

  • ||

    While part of me understands it, the other part of me gets frustrated when Reason publishes information suggesting that seemingly dangerous activities (e.g. riding a motorcycle without a helmet or eating tons of fatty foods) may not really be that dangerous. To argue the relative safety of such actions is to lend credence to the notion that behaviors that are sufficiently dangerous to oneself should be banned. If one believes that individuals have the right to willingly engage in dangerous activities, then the exact level of the danger is irrelevant.

  • Naga Sadow||

    PR is probably right. I think the fundamental problem is that people driving trucks and SUV's tend to treat motorcycles as little more than annoying gnats.

  • RP||

    Admittedly I had a bicycle accident, not a motorcycle accident, but I'd have been brains on the pavement without my helmet, so I don't need no stinkin' law to tell me to wear one, I'm a believer.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Sometimes they drive like annoying gnats.

  • :-/||

    Why not require everyone to wear a helmet? If zero head injuries is the ultimate goal, it would be wholly consistent with existing legislation to do so.

  • Neu Mejican||

    ClubMedSux,

    But that is how Jacob Sullum always frames his arguments.

    Group X sees result Y as a problem and recommends a government solution.

    Most people agree with group X that result Y is bad (and there is good research to support their opinion), but opinions vary as to what to do about it.

    Jacob Sullum says: No you are being fooled, there is not a problem, Y is a fantasy cooked up by group X. There is no problem, so there is no need for a solution.

    Rather than...

    Yes, Y is a problem, but your proposed solution is not warranted, violates rights, has unintended consequences that are worse than Y, etc....

  • Naga Sadow||

    Nigel,

    I agree but so does everyone at some point of another. I was doing that myself yesterday on I-10 going roughly 110 mph. I meant that someone in an SUV tends to not treat a motorcycle as a motor vehicle.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Well, motorcycles have a particular ability to be annoying and dangerous - they can weave in and out of traffic a little more easily than my four-door can.

    Even when I'm going 110.

  • Neu Mejican||

    To be fair, change my "always" to "usually."

    This case is actually a variation of the above argument.

    Group X says result of regulation Y has produced desirable result Z.

    Most people agree Z is a good thing.

    JS says, Z is not an important result, or actually results from something else.

  • ||

    I have ridden for four years now and over 20,000 miles. Some of that in places like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Atlanta and DC. I have riden in some very heavy traffic. I have yet to have even a close call. Perhaps I am really lucky. But, I see motorcyclists do some of the dumbest things. They weave in and out of traffic. They pay no attention to where they are in relation to the vehicles around them. If you are sitting in someone's blindspot, you are probably going to get cut off. If you pass a car without either a good shoulder or another lane to your left, you are fucked if he pulls out. I think bad riding kills more people than lack of helmets.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Here you go John.

    Harley Davidson: It's better to be dead and cool, than alive and uncool.

  • ||

    if everyone in cars had to wear helmets, that would save more lives than a helmet law for motorcycles. think of the children.

  • Anti-Globalism||

    I agree with Nigel Watt.

    Let natural selection take its course.

  • ||

    I don't ride motorcycles. If I dod, I'd wear a helmet. I may be wrong, but I think wearing a helmet is safer than not.

    "We are the only industrialized country in the world where there is an organized effort to weaken or repeal motorcycle helmet laws," complains Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Is that a sign of backwardness or a point of pride?


    Point of pride. It's none of my damned business whether you wear a hemet, a seat belt, or you mainline mass quantities of blow. I treat other adults as adults. I'd like expect that courtesy returned.

  • Paul||

    It's none of my damned business whether you wear a hemet, a seat belt, or you mainline mass quantities of blow. I treat other adults as adults.

    But I want you to pay for my healthcare, and I insist I pay for yours, therefore... [insert tired arguments here]

  • ||

    Lolz. Helmuts are for people for don't pay any attention to whats going on around them. I never wore one in any one of my 18 accident and look how good I turned out! Down with helmet laws!

    http://ULTIMATE-spamonymity.com

  • ||

    "Harley Davidson: It's better to be dead and cool, than alive and uncool."

    I ride a BMW with anti-lock breaks and shaft drive that is nearly impossible to spin out or fishtail. You also can't lock the tires even if you panic. The ABS system prevents that. It may not be as "cool" as the 1930s technology on a Harley, but it is a hell of a lot safer.

  • ||

    Jesus fucking Christ, so if you don't use the one AND PRECISELY ONE correct counter-argument to anti-libertarian idiocy you're some kind of closet-fascist? What the fuck?

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    "More people using donor-cycles"

    donor-cycles. Not motor-cycles.

    Gosh, that's clever.

  • Ash||

    First, I totally agree that it should be up to people whether or not they wear a helmet -- if you want to be an idiot, it's your right to be an idiot.

    That said, the point of wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is not to save your life when you get sideswiped by a coffee-drinking, cell-phone using, SUV-driving jerk who's not paying attention to anyone but his/her self. The point is to save your life in situations where you would not die except from traumatic brain injury -- think of having an accident at 10 miles per hour and hitting your head off the pavement/curb/other hard surface. If you get whacked going 110 mph down the highway, it's quite likely that you're going to die from the traumatic injury to the rest of your organs; if you fall off your bike at a stop sign and hit the curb with your head, you'll die because you were too stupid to wear a helmet.

    As is probably apparent, I'd like to second the notion that other motorists lack of attention is definitely a factor in the fatality of motorcycle accidents, as it is in all sorts of accidents. But knowing that other vehicles frequently don't pay attention to motorcyclists should cause said motorcyclists to be extra vigilant -- you have to watch out for assholes because they are not going to watch out for you.

  • ||

    Besides the obvious economic objections, this is a fourth most convincing reason to be leery of socialized medicine. This stuff will get ten times worse when everyone else actually is paying for your stupid mistakes.

  • Elemenope||

    Matt,

    Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but either way I can't take credit, as it isn't original to me. It's a fairly common way for EMT folks to talk about motorcycles, and I picked up from my significant other who did a stint in an ER.

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    Dating a candy stripper, eh? Nice.

  • Naga Sadow||

    John,

    That was a quote from that 1991 classic "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man".

    I drive a Z28 Camaro, buddy and I assure you that you can fishtail and spinout. You just need the right conditions cuz that is what it is gonna hinge on. I can accelarate into a turn already going 70 mph, it's just not recommended.

  • ||

    Actually meant striper, but both work. And both are nice.

  • Paul||

    Dating a candy stripper, eh? Nice.

    You been in a hospital lately?

  • ||

    Naga,

    I am sure my bike will spin out at some point. But to know the limits of your bike, you have to go past them and wreck it. I am happy to not know the limits.

  • Paul||

    I drive a Z28 Camaro

    Your haircut: Business in front, party in the back?

  • Mr. Average||

    QUOTE: Meanwhile, car fatalities fell by 8 percent and light truck fatalities fell by 3 percent, "pushing the overall death rate [for motor vehicle accidents] to a historic low," The New York Times reports. END QUOTE

    I wonder how much of that reduction in car and light truck fatalities can be attributed to the implementation of mandatory seat belt laws?

  • kinnath||

    I drive a Z28 Camaro,

    First car, way back when, was a 69 Camaro. Current car is an 06 350Z. I have accelerated through a wide turn on a two lane black top in excess of 90. Thrilling and chilling; I will never come close to the top speed of the 350Z.

  • ||

    They pay no attention to where they are in relation to the vehicles around them. If you are sitting in someone's blindspot, you are probably going to get cut off. If you pass a car without either a good shoulder or another lane to your left, you are fucked if he pulls out. I think bad riding kills more people than lack of helmets.

    These are all behaviors that I see people in cars do day in and day out. The difference, of course, is that when they get hit, they don't go flying off their vehicle. Perhaps the relative rate with which car drivers are switching to motorcycles is causing the accidents, because obvlivious car drivers aren't going to be alert motorcycle drivers.

  • Paul||

  • Naga Sadow||

    John,

    LOL! I have had a few close calls so I'm pretty sure I know the limits.

    Paul,

    I don't have enough hair for that. The Z28 was a Katrina-car. The old owner was an acquantance of mine who towed his vehicles over to my mom's house for safe keeping before Rita hit. Flipped out sometime after that and said fuck it all. Put a new battery in and she ran perfect. Slapped a salvage claim on her and so I picked up a 1997 Z-28 Camaro with convertible top, 18' rims, and dual three inch exhaust for roughly 360 dollars.

  • pistoffnick||

    As a rider of more than 18,000 miles, I make it a point to assume that every "cager" is an idiot. I am not often proven wrong.

    There is a white Dodge 1500 pickup in Oklahoma City with a size 10 boot dent in its door to prove my point.

    Yes I do wear a helmet, but by rational choice. I think there are instances where it is relatively safe to ride without one, though.

  • Naga Sadow||

    In case you were wondering why tow it to my mom's house. One of her homes is off of Big Ridge Road. Get it? Big Ridge.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Not bad Kinnath, not bad at all. You use factory tires or specials?

  • kinnath||

    Not bad Kinnath, not bad at all. You use factory tires or specials?

    Factory tires that came with the car. 110+ straight ahead with lots (and I mean lots) of throttle left.

  • Naga Sadow||

    kinnath,

    My car came with Kumho's that were the size of Corvette tires, 245 on the front and 275 on the back. I was going to get rid of em but the damn things impressed the hell out of me performance wise. The Z28 has a 5.7 liter V-8 first tried in the Corvette so that settled it for me. Expensive though.

  • Senor Encima de Media||

    I wonder how much of that reduction in car and light truck fatalities can be attributed to the implementation of mandatory seat belt laws?

    The trend was for the last 10 years, mandatory seatbelt laws have been nationwide for close to 20.

  • ||

    Helmets are not a cure all. They will not prevent an accident and the effects on peripheral vision and hearing, as well as the heat buildup on our 100 degree plus California days can contribute to causing accidents. Helmets can cause severe neck injuries in an accident that can result in paralysis or death. I have a friend who was paralyzed by his helmet. He died from circulation problems years later. I have been riding for nearly 30 years. Motorcyclists should have a right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet.

  • ||

    Kit,

    The only answer is to not have an accident. If you have one on the highway you are in a lot of trouble.

  • ||

    You know, if some idiot pulls into my right of way in a one ton SUV because, "Gosh he/she didn't see me," and takes my life, whether I'm wearing a helmet or not has nothing to to with whether or not you have the burden of paying for my medical bills.

    No more than the medical bills I have to pay for those who suffer from Alzheimer,s diabetes, obesity, cancer, and those of you who smoke.

    I don't complain when your lifestyle impacts on mine so don't try to restrict mine.

    Especially when you can't stastically prove that I am a burden to you medically but I can prove you cost me money.

    So I guess you are more of a burden to society thatn any motorcyclists.

    Hildy

  • ||

    BTW. The math says that in 2004 there was 39.89 deaths per 100 million miles riden. I ride about 5,000 miles per year, which means I have about a two tenths of one percent or 0.00199 chance of being killed in any given year. Now, when you factor in how many accidents are the result of alchohol and in experienced riders (I don't drink and ride and am an experienced rider), the chance goes down even more. I would guess by at least half, which lowers it to a one tenth of one percent chance. Motorcycles are dangerous but they are not quite the death traps people make them out to be.

  • ||

    Just wait till they lower the drinking age.I predict the human race will die out in ten years.

  • Dello||

    Ash,
    "That said, the point of wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is not to save your life when you get sideswiped by a coffee-drinking, cell-phone using, SUV-driving jerk who's not paying attention to anyone but his/her self. The point is to save your life in situations where you would not die except from traumatic brain injury..."

    Actually, a helmet will do very little to protect you from a traumatic brain injury. Your skull won't crack like an egg on the sidewalk, but your brain is going to bounce around inside your skull like a pinball. THAT'S where the brain injury comes from.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Motorcycles are fun, but you have to have a few screws loose to drive one in a populated area these days. Far too many idiot drivers on the roads. Saw one asshole the other day driving with one foot out the window and talking on his cell phone. As if operating the vehicle is some massive inconvenience to his busy-yet-carefree lifestyle.

  • Dello||

    Hildy,
    "You know, if some idiot pulls into my right of way in a one ton SUV..."

    You should get out and laugh at him for driving a motorized plastic Barbie Jeep. Even Suzuki Sidekicks tipped the scales at more than 2,000 pounds. :P

  • Naga Sadow||

    P Brooks,

    Ha! Wait until they legalize marijuana. Anarchy will REIGN!!! Also my bid to become a warlord will hopefully come true.

  • Billy Beck||

    John -- "I have ridden for four years now and over 20,000 miles. Some of that in places like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Atlanta and DC. I have riden in some very heavy traffic. I have yet to have even a close call."

    I got tagged by hit & run drivers in ATL twice in two years. The second one wiped out my Sportster, which had been put back together after the first one.

    What's it all mean? {shrug} After a certain level of experience and ability, it's a crap shoot. It depends on how many blind, crazy, and bloodthirsty cagers you deal with every day. (Believe me: I've seen 'em all.)

    Ash -- look; I don't think that the point of wearing a helmet is lost on most riders. It simply can't be, in the nature of the thing. What just cannot be accounted for is any given rider's calculations. See Kit's comment. There is a lot to this, and: very few who don't ride can really understand it, which is unfortunate because there are a hell of a lot more of them in the debate.

    My last helmet has these horrific grooves along the parietal region, cut in it by the rain-grooves in the concrete if Interstate 20 just east of Atlanta. (You had to hear that while it was happening.) I don't need the lecture from nanny-ninnies (not like you) because mine came from real authority. But look here: I once got to ride out to Spearfish Canyon from Sturgis without a helmet, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. That's all mine. I get to keep that, and I wouldn't have if some commissar wannabes had their way with my life.

    Call me an idiot if you want to, but I'll take my own chances and ask you what's your stupid point.

    pistoffnick: Me, too.

  • ||

    "I got tagged by hit & run drivers in ATL twice in two years. The second one wiped out my Sportster, which had been put back together after the first one."

    Fuckers. I hope they burn in hell. Glad to see you can still at least type after the accident. I will be the first to admit that I am very lucky. Honestly though, I think you are in more danger on side streets than the highway.

  • ||

    I am a motorcycle rider - one of those mentioned in
    the article, who has resumed riding after a long hiatus while my kid grew up. Some of my observations:

    With regard to other motorists who may be inattentive - that is ajust one of the risks that I assume when riding. It's unrealistic to expect others to change their driving habits just because i decided to hop on a bike.

    With regard to helmets - as with seatbelts and antilock brakes, the safety effect is muted, because
    riders wearing helmets take more chances, and the
    helmetless ride more cautiously. I wear a helmet,
    but i would ride very differently without one.

    With regard to weaving in and out of traffic - in California, it is legal to 'split lanes', if you do so
    with due caution. Morally, I don't think this amounts to 'jumping the queue', because my splitting lanes won't add delay to motorists stuck in traffic. But some drivers do seem to feel that this is 'cheating'.

  • ||

    SEan,

    Helmut or no, you are nuts to split lanes. All it takes is one jackass trying to cut over who doesn't see you and you are done. You won't have anywhere to go. I have done more than my share of speeding and passing in the left lane, but if someone had pulled out I would have at least had a chance to vier onto the shoulder.

  • Ash||

    Billy:

    Coming from a long ling of motorcycle riders, including a father who works for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation as an advanced riding coach, I'm not speaking from some hypothetical -- I'm speaking from my own personal experience. Maybe I'm just more risk-averse than most people, but I would never ride without a helmet, no matter how great the view that I *might* be missing. I've seen plenty of awesome stuff on a bike despite having my head protected.

    I never suggested that there should be law requiring their wearing -- like I said, if you want to be an idiot, that's your choice. I was just trying to make a point that seemed lost on most of the people calling all cyclists morons or organ-donors-in-waiting which is that the reason for a helmet is not to save you from getting smashed by an SUV on a highway -- it's to protect your head during an accident that wouldn't otherwise be fatal.

    If you think my point is stupid, that's fine -- I don't need your validation to know that I'm making the right choice for me, just like you don't care that I think you're an idiot for ever not wearing a helmet.

    Dello:
    I'm sorry for using the term "traumatic brain injury" incorrectly; whatever the correct medical definition, the point is that cracking your head off the curb can be fatal and a helmet can prevent that. Sure, they can also cause their own problems (just like seat belts), which I why I've been consistently saying that it's a matter of personal choice. Weigh the risks and make your own decision.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Dello:
    I'm sorry for using the term "traumatic brain injury" incorrectly; whatever the correct medical definition, the point is that cracking your head off the curb can be fatal and a helmet can prevent that. Sure, they can also cause their own problems (just like seat belts), which I why I've been consistently saying that it's a matter of personal choice. Weigh the risks and make your own decision.


    You didn't. Dello's comment shows a considerable lack of understanding of the issue.

    Traumatic Brain Injury is injury to your brain from trauma. A helmet will reduce that injury by absorbing energy from the impact. This reduces the injury from the impact itself, and from the brain sloshing around in the skull.

    Reducing deaths is only a small piece of the story. TBI results in a living, but dependent individual quite frequently. When you ride without a helmet and crack your skull, you are not the only victim. You are likely putting someone else on the hook to take care of you, whether that is your family or society at large.

  • Billy Beck||

    "You are likely putting someone else on the hook to take care of you, whether that is your family or society at large."

    If that had ever happened to me, my family was authorized to shoot me.

    I imagine the likes of you would have emphatically disagreed.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Billy Beck,

    I am a strong advocate of a patient's right to assisted suicide.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Helmets can cause severe neck injuries in an accident that can result in paralysis or death. I have a friend who was paralyzed by his helmet.

    You have a friend who attributes his paralysis to his helmet...this is a very different thing.

    It would be difficult to know what the results of that accident would have been without the helmet. If the force was great enough to result in a paralyzing spinal injury, the helmet likely saved your friends life by restricting the damage to the lower CNS.

    But that is just conjecture...

    As for the myth that helmets increase risk of neck injury...it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    http://aapgrandrounds.aappublications.org/cgi/content/extract/19/5/51?rss=1

    or

    Helmet Use and Associated Spinal Fractures in Motorcycle Crash Victims.

    Original Articles
    Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 64(1):190-196, January 2008.
    Goslar, Pamela W. PhD; Crawford, Neil R. PhD; Petersen, Scott R. MD, FACS; Wilson, Jeffrey R. PhD; Harrington, Timothy MD, FACS

    Abstract:
    Background: The effect of helmet use on the incidence of cervical and thoracic fractures sustained in motorcycle crashes remains controversial.

    Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the incidence of these fractures in helmeted and nonhelmeted crash victims at a single Level I trauma hospital with a well-defined system for evaluating spinal fractures.

    Results: Of 422 motorcycle crash victims treated during 3 years, 190 had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and 75 sustained some form of spinal fracture.

    Conclusions: Based on the statistical analysis, there was no relationship between helmet use and cervical or thoracic fractures, after controlling for speed of crash. The protective effect of helmet use in TBI was verified. These findings re-emphasize the need for a well-defined radiologic protocol for spinal injury at centers that evaluate crash victims.

  • Paul||

    You have a friend who attributes his paralysis to his helmet...this is a very different thing.

    It would be difficult to know what the results of that accident would have been without the helmet. If the force was great enough to result in a paralyzing spinal injury, the helmet likely saved your friends life by restricting the damage to the lower CNS.


    I'm with Neu 100% on this one. And that says a lot. An anecdote of "a guy" I've never met who says he got an owie from his helmet, so there, see they're bad? doesn't wash. Statistically, you're safer with a helmet. We can still argue whether it should be a personal choice (I believe it should be), but we need to slow down on the notion that if we lived in a helmet free world, motorcycle injuries and deaths would drop dramatically.

    I got tagged by hit & run drivers in ATL twice in two years. The second one wiped out my Sportster, which had been put back together after the first one.

    Billy Beck, I'm not accusing you of anything, but when I know someone who, for instance, keeps griping about how drivers constantly "pull out in front" of him, often you can conclude that this motorcycle rider is continuously going at 3x the posted speed.

    I've had these friends before, believe me. It's kind of like the driver who keeps complaining that people in front of him keep "stopping too fast". News flash: there is no such thing. If you leave the proper and safe distance between you and the idiot in front of you, you'll discover that it's almost impossible to suffer from people "stopping too fast".

  • ||

    Elemenope:

    It was sarcasm.

  • Paul||

    Oh, and if you cycle-kidz don't slow down, there ain't a helmet in the world that's a'gonna save ya. Word to ya mutha:

    A motorcyclist moving at an estimated 120 MPH smashed headlong into the rear of a semi rig early Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon, Tulsa police identified him as Brandon White, 25, of Tulsa.
    It happened shortly after 1:00 a.m. near the 8100 block of South U.S. 169.
    The motorcycle traveled several hundred yards after impact, ending up about 8500 S. U.S. 169. The truck was nearly to 91st Street before it could come to a complete stop.
    Emergency responders say the White died instantly, despite the fact he wore a helmet.
    He actually impaled himself into the rear of the truck, head first, and was then drug along behind the truck until the driver of the semi could pull it over.
    Rescue workers found him dangling from the rear of the truck.
    The trucker told officers the impact made him think he'd been hit by another truck.
    The medical examiner will try to determine if White might have been intoxicated at the time.
    Accident investigators believe his speed at time of impact was around 120 MPH.



    Semi probably "stopped too fast"

  • ||

    Could it be that cars have continued to get more safe, while innovations in bike safety are more difficult?

  • ||

    Could it be that cars have continued to get more safe, while innovations in bike safety are more difficult?

    While it is true that making any two-wheeled vehicle safer is a severe engineering challenge, you may be overlooking the human factor. Why do some people do things that everyone knows are dangerous? Like scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing or motorcycling?

    It's also a helluva lot of fun, and those of you who don't ride, don't know what you're missing. Not that i'm encouraging anyone to take up motorcycling - it's dangerous! ;->


    They do it because it's dangerous. If you eliminate the danger, they will just find some other outlet for risk-taking.

    The WSJ article implies that 'reentry' riders don't understand the risks, but that is silly - why did they wait until their kids were grown before resuming riding? Because they know that it's dangerous.

  • ||

    The guy who was paralyzed was a good friend of mine, and his doctors told him that his paralysis was due to the helmet tilting back and hitting his spine. He had a great many injuries, but the spine injury was the one that killed him over the long run. The results of your study don't alter the facts in this case, his helmet paralyzed him.

    In my nearly 30 years of riding I have been in several accidents and have never incurred a serious head injury, and only wear the smallest of beanie helmets in states where helmets are mandatory. I ride 25,000 miles plus annually. The weight of a full face helmet has to place additional stress on the neck in a fall. I remember reading that a NASCAR driver was killed by his helmet some years back, so I don't think that study you cite is the last word on the subject. Probably put out by the insurance companies. When helmet laws are enacted ridership takes a nose dive. IMHO The agenda of auto insurers is to legislate all motorcyclists off the road so they don't have to pay out damages to the victims of their negligent, distracted drivers.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Kit,

    The guy who was paralyzed was a good friend of mine, and his doctors told him that his paralysis was due to the helmet tilting back and hitting his spine. He had a great many injuries, but the spine injury was the one that killed him over the long run. The results of your study don't alter the facts in this case, his helmet paralyzed him.

    You heard the doctors say this first hand? Or did your friend tell you that is what his doctors told him? It is possible that his injuries were consistent with this hypothesis, and that it was the one that his doctors believed. But it is really irrelavent to my comments.

    Change it if you like: You have a friend who whose doctors attributes his paralysis to his helmet...this is a very different thing.

    Again, the paralysis occurred in the context of an incident which put significant forces to play on your friend's body. It may be true the that lever that resulted in the particular injury that paralyzed your friend was provided by the helmet he was wearing. However, as I said above, we don't know what the results of the accident would have been without the helmet. My guess is that he would have been injured more severely and may not have survived the accident at all due to the brain injuries that would have occurred.

    But that is just conjecture.

    The weight of a full face helmet has to place additional stress on the neck in a fall.

    Yes. However, careful research (cited studies and others) has been done. It finds that this additional stress does not significantly raise your risk of a neck injury. If you are using the impression that this additional weight increases your risk as a reason not to wear a helmet, you are making your choice based on an inaccurate assessment of risk.

    Don't believe the hype.

    Probably put out by the insurance companies.

    Because it disagrees with you general impression of the problem it is biased science?

    As has been mentioned above, the issue of whether helmets reduce your risk of serious injury (they do) or death (again, they do) is not directly linked to whether or not a helmet law is justified. If you believe that people have a right to take on that additional risk, and additionally have the right to place a burden on their family or society when that risk manifests, then there is no justification for the law.

    Reasonable people will disagree.

    But to claim that wearing a helmet increases your risks of serious injury or death is counter factual. Anecdotal evidence aside.

    I am sorry that your friend was injured, but his injury doesn't change the facts. Helmets do not increase your risk of a neck injury.

  • ||

    The recent sky-high price of gasoline has caused us to discover how few mpg a small boat gets. Although most of us have ridden in such a boat , we had not thought in terms of mpg, because boats just go thither and yon with reckless abandon, and that was their point. Still is, if you can afford it.
    Motorcycles are bizarro boats. They go thither and yon, but with very high mpg, at least compared to most modes of transportation.
    I'm assuming it is that capriciousness of motorcycle riders which explains why the passenger miles of motorcycles has not been well documented. And the accidents per passenger mile has obviously not either.

  • ridley||

    Motorcycles are getting cheaper to buy, especially all the chinese ones being imported. With more motorcycles being ridden, the numbers were expected to go up.

  • Anecdote Man||

    I've been riding for (oh my FSM I'm getting old) 22 years. Something I've noticed about all the "extra" bikes on the road lately is that many of them are disused older bikes that have been knocking about in people's garages for years. With gas prices up, the cobwebs are blown off and many a '87 Suzuki GS is back on the road. Not only are the riders' skills very rusty, but so is the bike. Someone who's riding to save money isn't going to be interested in replacing those 20-year-old dry-rotted tires/fork seals/brake lines/etc. So the bike is running your ass to the office every day, but in a panic situation when some jackass makes a left turn in front of you, these bikes' performance just isn't up to it any longer.

    Also, cars are safer than ever, ergo cagers take more risks than ever. More bikes plus stupider cagers equals more dead bikers.

    Personally, I'm quite happy to see all the extra bikes on the road. Hopefully with more of us around the rest of you in your cars will pay a little more attention.

  • Billy Beck||

    Paul: "Billy Beck, I'm not accusing you of anything, but ..."

    And you find it convenient to tag your impertinent remarks to my name... why, exactly?

    Let me clear your mind: the first hit & run was a sixteen year-old girl who took a left turn across my lane against her red light and she never even once thought about stopping. The second one was the drunk who closed on my from behind at a closing-rate of at least thirty-five miles an hour while I was doing the speed limit and minding my own business. Eyewitnesses wanted him indicted for attempted murder.

    Now; do you have any fucking stupid questions?

  • Paul Rako||

    Well, it might be propaganda from all those Abate meetings I attended, but it is my understanding that if your head hits anything solid while going faster than 13 mph, you're dead, no questions asked. I wear a seatbelt because in a car you are guaranteed to hit your head in most accidents. I wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle since I am usually doing under 13 mph and interestingly, a bike helmet is far lighter and more comfortable. If California did not force me to wear a helmet on my motorcycle I would not wear it. After riding most every day for 30 years, I think I have a pretty good assessment of the risk trade-offs involved. For the rice-rocket crowd that thinks the streets are a racetrack, they are right to wear a helmet, and I suggest that they are the idiots, not me. So are the people that ride in tennis shoes and shorts. I always wear gloves when I ride since every time I have come off a bike my hands take a beating. But you can visualize and learn how to come off a bike to not bash your head on the pavement, and you can ride at a pace and style so you don't find cars pulling out in front of you or stopping too suddenly. Another factor in my decision to eschew helmets is because of an arthritic spur in my neck that causes extreme pain if I wear a big heavy helmet. I prefer the carbon fiber yarmulke models. To me a motorcycle is not some toy to whip around and get my kicks on, it is a tool that I use for efficient transportation. The one time I ended up in a hospital was from getting hit from behind while sitting at at red light. If I broke my collar bone without the helmet I can't image how much worse it would have been with one, and yes, the car driver got off, the cop saying that I stopped for a green light.

    OK, so to all those people that tell me I have to wear a helmet to reduce my risk despite the neck pain, let me ask you: do you wear a rubber when you have sex with your wife? I mean, unless you are trying to have a kid she still might give you aids or herpes or some of those wart things. Why would you not suffer the small expense and minor inconvenience of wearing a rubber to reduce that risk to nothing? Oh, you say you know your wife will NEVER give you anything? Well that is wrong, as well as me saying I will NEVER be worse off without a helmet, but both our choices are justified by our rational perception of the risks. And believe me, I hope you are offended by my suggesting that we regulate your sex life because when the pin-head student-council dorks I went to high school with grow up and pass a motorcycle dress code for crying out loud, they deserve to get the snot kicked out of them just like when they sent Bob Raus home for wearing paisley pants back in 1969.

    I once had a boss that called me an idiot for not wearing a helmet. Then a month later he told me how he almost got clobbered by the boom of his yacht as it tacked into the wind. He said it knocked him head-first into the cockpit. I told him that he was an idiot to not wear a helmet. Yeah, that job didn't last long.

    So you helmet lovers, as Sam Kinnison used to say, "put a helmet on that soldier", your wife will appreciate it.

  • Billy Beck||

    "do you wear a rubber when you have sex with your wife?"

    None of your business. Get it?

  • ||

    Who wrote this shit >>>Why not require everyone to wear a helmet? If zero head injuries is the ultimate goal, it would be wholly consistent with existing legislation to do so.>>>>> Let me give a responce , First off more motorcycles & so are cellphone users . NOW if we want to stop head injuries we first need to pass a LAW to stop people from driving useing cellphones. They don't care about cutting people of or expecially if it's motorcycles.Now should be make people driving cars and trucks wear a helmet to. They are in fatal crashes every day . Come on now Think before you speek, most of the helments made wont protect you at a cruising speed . SB46 need to be shut don't . LET THE RIDER DESIDE IF THEY WANT TO WEAR A HELMET . What is happening to our freedom ? Whats Next ? U Tell Me. It all discust me. I bought my bike I insured it, i gas it , now the goverment wants to tell me how to ride it.

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