Increased Riders Death Blamed on Repealed Helmet Law

A study published in January's edition of the Southern Medical Journal places the blame of increased riders deaths solely on the leather shoulders of a repealed motorcycle helmet law. According to the study, in 1997, the State of Texas repealed its mandatory helmet law, making helmet use optional for all motorcycle riders aged 21 or older.

Drs. Bavon and Standerfer analyzed data on motorcycle fatalities from 1994 to 2004 to look for trends in the rate of fatal injuries before and after the change in helmet laws, clutchandchrome reported.

"Since the 1997 repeal of the mandatory helmet law in Texas substantially fewer motorcyclists choose to wear protective helmets and substantially more fatal injuries occur per motorcycles registered in the state,"
states the new study, led by Al Bavon, PhD, and Christina Standerfer, PhD, of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

Overall, the number of motorcycle deaths increased by 30 percent after the repeal of the helmet law. The number of deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles increased from 89 in 1994 to 101 in 2004: a 15 percent increase. Motorcycle fatalities per vehicle mile traveled also increased significantly, by 25 percent.

Texas is among the 30 states that have no mandatory (or minimally restrictive) helmet laws for motorcyclists over age 21. As in previous studies, the absence of motorcycle helmet laws is linked to more motorcycle deaths: not only overall, but in terms of number of motorcycles on the road and total number of miles traveled.

However, even if there is strong evidence that helmet laws reduce fatalities, the trend in many states appears to be moving away from universal helmet laws, according to an editorial by David J. Houston, Ph.D., of University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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