Wear a Motorcycle Helmet. Yes or No?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 12:15pm

Motorcycling is an experience like no other. The freedom of driving around in a fast vehicle with the elements surrounding you cannot be beat. That’s why no matter the weather or the season, motorcyclists are seen on the roads everywhere.  When you see them increase in speed and maneuver through lanes you feel amazement.

Despite such a perception, driving a bike takes a lot of responsibility. A person must be disciplined and take the appropriate steps to legally operate one. Additionally, every state has their own set of laws and tests established to govern who can actually own and drive one. “

As of 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws requiring all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets. Another 28 states required partial helmet laws. Three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) don't have any laws requiring helmet use.” Along with these specific requirements there are guidelines on necessary equipment usage. Bob Parsons, former CEO of GoDaddy, recently opened motorcycle dealerships and advocates wearing a helmet, even if state law doesn’t require it.

Unfortunately, even with these regulations instilled there are still people who choose to operate these two wheeled vehicles with little or no regard to safety. Ultimately this is the cause behind major motorcycle accidents and numerous deaths in the United States. But for the sake of argument let’s account for the effect certain safety equipment such as helmets have in saving or reducing further damage to individuals who are involved in these crashes.

The Facts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation states that in the event of a crash, wearing a bike helmet can reduce your risk of sustaining a serious head or brain injury by 85 to 88 percent.

Claims have been made that helmets increase the risk of neck injury and reduce peripheral vision and hearing, but there is no credible evidence to support these arguments.

Helmets are highly effective in preventing brain injuries, which often require extensive treatment and may result in lifelong disability. In the event of a crash, unhelmeted motorcyclists are three times more likely than helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain injuries.

In states that either reinstated or enacted universal motorcycle helmet laws, helmet use increased dramatically, and deaths and injuries of motorcyclists decreased. In states that repealed or weakened their universal helmet laws, helmet use declined sharply, and deaths and injuries rose.
Some people believe statistics are just bunches of data compiled to sway the opinions of certain readers to agree with their side. As a result below is a brief summary of the major pros and cons when it comes to helmet use in the United States:

Pros:
1. Effectiveness/ Safety - Helmets protect the head from injury in crashes, as well as, provide drivers with protection from flying debris while driving.
2. Cost - The cost of obtaining protection from head trauma far more outweighs the cost of having to purchase a new helmet.
3. Functionality - Not only are there helmets that provide hearing protection, there are other unique features that can be used within a helmet such as speakers and communication devices.

Cons:
1. Cost - Though the prices of helmets can be reasonable, the more expensive brands that offer the most protection are not accessible to everyone.
2. Comfort - Some argue in hotter climates helmet use can become unbearable. It’s also said that helmets restrict your face and become bothersome.
3. Loss of freedom - Many people enjoy the experience of being exposed to the elements and the freedom of not wearing restrictive head gear.

Basically the cons for wearing helmets are vanity. Yet the pros are purposeful. Safety, savings and convenience certainly outweigh any cost to comfort, income or feeling of liberty.  

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We all know the risks and safety factors every time we get on our motorcycles. I disagree with the notion that not wearing a helmet is for vanity reasons. Being a woman with long hair, and living in New Hampshire, speaking for myself, it is NOT vanity. If I go on a day long ride and let my hair "go", it is a 2+ hr. ordeal, some tears, and a 1/2 bottle of conditioner to comb it out. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The Freedom of the experience is incomparable. Freedom. It should be MY Choice.

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