Motor safety has been an issue of concern for many years. It has lead to the establishment of departments of transportations being formed throughout the nation in every state, it has lead to the requirement of licenses for all forms of transportation, and has also lead to the creation of laws mandating safety equipment such as seatbelts and airbags. With the progress that has been made in transportation since the 1880s with the invention of the car, it is surprising to see that there is still great room for progress with regards to motorcycle safety and nonmotor vehicle safety.
The motorcycle is a popular form of transportation for many reasons, it is cheap compared to a car or van, it is highly fuel efficient, compact, and is capable of great acceleration. With over 4 million motorcyclists in the United States, the motorcycle makes up about two percent of registered vehicles. In the late 90s the total number of motorcyclists was around 3.5 million and currently is at about 6.8 million with this increase in riders, as the number of motorcyclists steadily increases it becomes more apparent that there needs to be stricter regulation of safety on motorcycles (NHTSA).
As the Michigan State Police have stated, “motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars, and they have high performance capabilities.” The Michigan State Police department has also stated that because of a lack of encasing around the rider as would be found on four wheeled vehicles such as SUVs, cars, or vans, the likelihood of injury in an accident is significantly higher for motorcyclists (MSP).
The dangers of riding a motorcycle has been shown to be drastically reduced in terms the number of fatalities and serious injury when helmets are worn by the riders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 1658 motorcyclists have been saved as a result of helmet use (Traffic Safety Facts.) Helmets, while unable to prevent total injury, provide protection to the most vulnerable part of a motorcyclist in the event of a crash, the head. As the NHTSA has stated on numerous times reports, helmets are thirty-seven percent effective in preventing fatal injuries, this essentially means that thirty-seven percent more of riders in accidents will survive if they are wearing helmets as opposed to not wearing them. An account from Matthew Pentane about an accident that his uncle had shows how important it is to wear motorcycle helmets. (****)
Helmets, in addition to decreasing the risk of fatal injury, also help prevent accidents. Helmets are designed to aerodynamically design to hear from the rear of the helmet. This allows for wind noise to be drastically reduced and as a result enable the rider to hear other sounds easier. Motorcyclists without helmets or half helmets are forced to breath oncoming air which is fast moving and hard to take in; full helmets and flip helmets produce a pocket of relatively slow moving air which allows the rider to breathe easier. Flip helmets and full face helmets are also able to protect riders from debris such as small pebbles and smog because of their added visors.
How to choose helmet class
Mandatory helmets for riders
Revoke acceptance of ½ helmets
1. Liu BC, Ivers R, Norton R, Boufous S, Blows S, Lo SK. Helmets for preventing injury in motorcycle riders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004333. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004333.pub3
2. MSP. "Motorcycle Helmets." Michighan State Police. Michighan.gov. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. <http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1593_3504_22760-13677--,00.html>.
3. NHTSA. "Motorcycle Safety." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation, 1999. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/motosafety.html>
4. Traffic Safety Facts. NHTSA.gov, 2008. National Highway Trafic Safety Administration. NHTSA, Mar. 2008. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. <http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810806.PDF>.