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Lax helmet laws lead to more severe motorcycle injuries

According to a study recently published by the Highway Loss Data Institute, the cost of the average medical claim resulting from motorcycle accidents increased by 20 percent after lawmakers relaxed helmet requirements in Michigan last year. Though the study uses Michigan as an example, the move to put an end to mandatory helmet laws has been gaining momentum across the country.

According to the HLDI study, the average cost of a motorcycle accident medical claim was $5,410 in the two years before the helmet law was changed. In the time since the law changed, the average medical claim cost rose to $7,257. The findings of the study are consistent with other studies indicating that states without mandatory helmet laws see higher incidences of head and brain injuries in motorcycle accidents.

In some cases, states have responded to moves repealing mandatory helmet laws by requiring more medical coverage insurance for motorcycle owners. Even with the increased insurance requirements, the costs of a motorcycle injury are often severe and can require long-term or even life-long care.

Motorcycle accident related deaths have emerged as a significant concern in recent years. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, the number of motorcycle deaths has increased 14 of the last 15 years. In 2012, approximately 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents across the country.

Currently, 19 states, as well as Washington, D.C., require motorcycle riders to wear helmets at all times. Twenty eight states require only some riders to wear helmets, usually those under the age of 21.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Motorcycle Injuries Rise After Helmet Laws Weakened: Study,” Joan Lowy, June 5, 2013

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