The National Safety Council has circulated its warning that July is dangerous: accidental death rates jump up over ten percent (10%) this month, with fatalities in all kinds of preventable accidents: from drownings, to heat stroke, to traffic accidents. (See our last post for details.)
Higher Risk for Motorcycle Accident Deaths in July
One area of special concern in this increased risk of fatality this month is the danger of motorcycle accident deaths, given the controversy in Indiana and Illinois over the use of motorcycle helmets for both drivers and passengers of a motorcycle. Unlike some states, our area does not require everyone who is traveling on a local road via motorcycle to wear a protective helmet.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Indiana and Illinois
In Illinois, there is no law that requires you to wear a motorcycle helmet. In Indiana, you only need to wear a motorcycle helmet if you are under the age of 17 years. There is no federal law that requires someone taking a ride on a motorcycle to wear a helmet. (Read the Indiana statute here.)
Why Some Argue for Helmet Laws: To Protect Against Head Injury in Motorcycle Accidents
Research shows that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Trauma to the head and skull in a motorcycle accident, even one where the bike isn’t going fast, can be fatal.
Those who want to mandate wearing motorcycle helmets back up their argument with data that shows motorcycle helmets protect accident victims from a TBI death in about 37% of the time for the motorcycle driver, and at an even higher rate (41%) for the bike’s passenger.
These percentages sound great, except for a lot of folk who ride motorcycles. They insist that wearing motorcycle helmets pose dangers to the motorcyclist, too. They argue that wearing one of those big, cumbersome helmets prevents the motorcycle driver from having a good view of the road around him and what other vehicles are doing (as well as road hazards, etc.).
Since it’s all too often a problem of a vehicle driver explaining “I just didn’t see the motorcycle,” after the accident, motorcycle drivers argue that they need all the advantages they can get in driving defensively on roads shared with bigger, heavier vehicles. To them, helmets are dangerous because they thwart the ability of the driver to drive as defensively as possible because the helmet inhibits a clear view.
Motorcycle Accidents in Indiana and Illinois
This month, as well as the rest of the year before the weather gets bad for riding bikes, motorcycle enthusiasts are going to be taking advantage of the sunny days to explore the roads and enjoy the freedom that riding a motorcycle provides.
It’s important for everyone driving motorcycles here, as well as all of us who share the road with them, to acknowledge the dangers of motorcycle accidents and keep safe: especially in the Most Dangerous Month of July.