Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Money, Also Lives, But Let's Talk About The Money

By Blake Z. Rong | June 18, 2012
Because it's a tough economy, and because our paramedics and cleanup crews are sitting by listlessly, many states are eliminating their motorcycle helmet laws. It promotes tourism, they say, especially in Michigan, a state known for its fiscal woes but not so much for its beaches; more lidless riders are willing to venture to a state with no helmet law fines than without, if they can feel the cool downstream Canadian breeze across the Upper Peninsula. A silly notion, sure, but the cruel fate of Darwinism is nothing to scoff at. But for state legislators (not that they'll read this, mind you), if the whole wacky notion of self-preservation and an intact brain that's contained within your own head instead of splayed on the pavement like a flesh-colored fried egg isn't enough to overcome the vision of looking like Marlon Brando on an EZ-Financed Electra-Glide, then how about the idea that wearing a helmet saves money—which, as we all know, is the catch-all impetus for all legislative action these days? The savings come from medical expenses. The Centers For Disease Control—when they're not tiresomely reassuring a hysterical populace that zombies are, in fact, just a television show—analyzed fatal motorcycle crash data from 2008 to 2010 taken from the NHTSA. Taking into consideration medical and emergency services costs, work and household productivity losses, insurance administration costs, and legal costs resulting from deaths and injuries from motorcycle crashes, they determined how much states with helmet laws save, versus those that don't.
Published in the wonderfully-named Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the annual cost savings were four times greater in states with mandatory helmet laws than those without. California, which mandates everybody to strap on Bell, saved $394 million, while New Mexico, which only makes those under 21 to wear a helmet, saved a not-paltry $2.6 million itself. "Increasing motorcycle helmet use can save lives and money," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the CDC. "In 2010, more than $3 billion in economic costs were saved due to helmet use in the United States. Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets." Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. have universal helmet laws; 28 states have partial helmet laws, and three states have no helmet law. Motorcyclists are a dying breed. Without helmets, more riders will die from their crashes, giving motorcycling a disproportionally dangerous image (more dangerous than it's meant to be, at least), which will dissuade people from taking up a motorcycle (and alleviating some of this terrible Los Angeles traffic we're supposed to get used to, but still hate), and forcing existing motorcyclists to hear from their kvetching mothers and coworkers about the dangers of their chosen hobby and/or method of commute. Helmets prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among riders and 41 percent among passengers last year, and you can bet the ones that survived thanked Shoei, Arai or HJC for their products. Wear a helmet, save the economy, and maybe your life. And if you were wondering, Brando rode a Triumph, and got injured mostly from getting beat up, and not smacking his handsome mug on the pavement. Source: Centers For Disease Control And Prevention