Study Finds Helmets Do Not Increase Risks of Neck Injuries for Motorcycle Riders
For motorcyclists, riding a motorcycle on a winding road on a warm sunny day is one of the most enjoyable activities of summer. Unfortunately, motorcycles can be a more dangerous way to travel than other vehicles because of the limited protection the vehicles offer. For years, laws regarding helmets laws have been a source of controversy among the motorcycle community. In the United States, each state can decide whether or not to enact laws that address the use of helmets.
In Illinois, there is no law that requires anyone using a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, or motor-driven cycle to wear a helmet. While many safety advocates believe that the lack of a helmet law is reckless not in the interest of public safety, many riders maintain that helmets can actually present additional dangers. Critics of mandatory helmet laws have claimed that motorcycle helmets cause an increase in the risk of a neck break, but a recent study has dispelled this myth.
Does the Added Weight of a Helmet Increase the Risk of Injury?
Although most helmets are designed to be as lightweight as possible, wearing a motorcycle helmet does add a significant amount of weight to a person’s head. Some individuals have speculated that this added weight increases the risk of serious neck injuries for bikers. Because of inertia, when a motorcycle is traveling at a given speed, the rider’s head and helmet are moving at that same speed. However, when the motorcycle suddenly stops—such as during a roadway accident—the rider’s head and helmet will continue to move forward. Concerned motorcyclists have worried that this force may actually snap the rider or passenger’s neck.
Researchers Explore Motorcycle Helmet Safety
In order to determine if the idea of motorcycle helmets causing neck injuries was accurate, a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health analyzed thousands of pieces of real-world data. The team of neurosurgeons examined over 1,000 cases of motorcycle accident victims who had received treatment at the hospital’s trauma center during a five-year time period. The state of Wisconsin has less stringent helmet laws than California, so only about a third of the accident victims were wearing helmets when the crashes occurred.
Through their analysis, the team found that those riding their motorcycle without helmets at the time of the accident experienced neck injuries at two times the rate of riders who did choose to wear a helmet. Helmetless riders suffered neck fractures at a rate of 10.8 percent while only 4.6 percent of riders with helmets suffered a neck fracture as a result of the accident. Furthermore, helmetless motorcyclists experienced more soft tissue and ligament damage than those who wore helmets. Of course, the scope of this study only involved one hospital, so more research into the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets is needed. However, for now, it seems that motorcyclists have good reason always to wear their helmet when riding.
A Skilled Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury during a motorcycle accident, contact a knowledgeable Orland Park personal injury attorney to talk about your options for recovering damages. Call 708-226-9000 to schedule your free initial consultation at Schwartz Injury Law today.