TBI and Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws

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According to the results of a new study, there is a new link between rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and helmet laws. In states that require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, rather than just younger riders, there were lower rates of TBIs.

Helmet Laws Controversial

“Universal helmet laws reduce traumatic brain injury among children and adolescents,” said Kathryn Anderson, MD, from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. “And, unfortunately, there is a trend toward repealing these laws.” Helmet laws have been controversial for a long time. Currently nineteen states have universal laws, 28 states have laws that only apply to younger riders, and 3 states have no motorcycle helmet laws at all. And according to Anderson, “Although fatalities involving passenger vehicles are decreasing, fatalities involving motorcycle riders are increasing.”

The TBI and Helmet Law Study

Researchers, including Anderson, looked at the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database. This database documents 20% of all admissions and discharges in American hospitals. Of that group, the researchers identified 587 motorcycle riders (either passengers or drivers)  that were younger than 21 years and had been hospitalized with a TBI resulting from a motorcycle accident. They then took that data and compared it to state laws — if a helmet was required for all riders, or just those under 21 or 18. whether wearing a helmet was required for all riders, for riders younger than 21 years, or for riders younger than 18 years.

What the study concluded was that the incidence of traumatic brain injury was significantly lower in the states that required helmets for all riders rather than just helmets for younger riders. And young riders were 2.5 times less likely to incur a TBI in motorcycle accidents where helmets were required for all riders.

Enforcing Helmet Laws

“It’s easier to enforce if you have a universal law,” said Christopher Newton, MD, from the University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital. “It’s pretty hard for law enforcement to see the difference between a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. That’s a primary issue.”

If you or a family member have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need the expert advice of lawyers such as those at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC.

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