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Study: Universal helmet laws keep young riders safer

At this time of the year, the last thing most people here in the Midwest would ever think about is taking their motorcycle out of the garage and out for a ride. However, when the snow melts and the settings are ideal for a long bike trip, they'll need to remember a few basic safety items, including whether the states in which they'll be cruising require a helmet.

As it stands, the 50 states are something of a patchwork of laws when it comes to motorcycle helmets, as 28 currently require younger riders (typically 20 and under) to wear helmets, 19 require all riders to wear helmets and three require no helmets whatsoever.

Indeed, Illinois is among these three states without helmet laws, while neighboring Missouri has a universal helmet law.   

Interestingly enough, a group of researchers from the University of Arizona recently published the results of a study, which found that the rate of traumatic brain injuries among young motorcyclists were significantly lower in those states with universal helmet laws as opposed to states with laws mandating helmet use only among younger riders.

They arrived at this conclusion by using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database to identify 587 motorcycle riders and passengers younger than 21 who had been hospitalized for a TBI resulting from a bike crash back in 2011.

From there, they divided these 587 young accident victims among their respective states and found that the residents of states with universal helmet laws were 2.5 times less likely to suffer a TBI in a motorcycle accident.  

"Universal helmet laws reduce traumatic brain injury among children and adolescents," said one of the primary authors of the study. "And, unfortunately, there is a trend toward repealing these laws."

It remains to be seen how persuasive studies like these prove to be in influencing the debate concerning helmet laws, which has been going on in some form since the late 1970s.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for seeking justice if you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent motorist.

Source: Medscape Medical News, "Universal motorcycle helmet laws better than age limits," Laird Harrison, Nov. 10, 2014

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