ABATE Press Release Julne 21, 2012 | Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog

ABATE Press Release Julne 21, 2012

Published on June 22, 2012 under Born To Ride

Volusia County, Florida, June 21, 2012 – It seems to be very popular the past few days to point fingers at motorcyclist and shout, “If only they were forced to wear a helmet thousands of lives and billions of dollars would be saved each year”. Bolstered by a study here and a newspaper column there, many of the “I know what’s best for you” crowd will try to rally others into forcing a small minority of our society into losing what precious bit of personal freedom we currently possess.

The eye of the recent motorcycle helmet hurricane revolves around a national study that the CDC published. This report by the CDC is a tad bit misleading. While helmets do give a slight advantage of surviving head injuries, motorcyclists want to make their own decision on when to wear a helmet. And statistics support that choice.

In the 2009 NHSTA Traffic Safety Facts-Motorcycles, of the 6 states (FL, CA, TX, PA, Ohio, and NY) with the highest motorcyclist’s fatalities, only two require all riders to wear helmets.  However, of the six states with the lowest motorcyclist fatalities, only two require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. The actual CDC report stated “Percentages were suppressed for states with fewer than 10 fatalities involving motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets”.  Using that low fatality criterion, only one state required universal helmet use.  A better figure would be the fatality per motorcycle registrations.  In 2002, of the six states with the lowest ratios, only Vermont required all riders to wear helmets.  Using that ratio as an indicator, for over a decade, the majority of states, with the lowest fatality ratios, allowed the rider to decide when to wear a helmet.

I offer these reports from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The DHSMV gathers all traffic related crash numbers and puts out a report each year. So using the CDC’s same time frame, the DHSMV shows that motorcycle deaths in Florida actually decreased from 532 in 2008 to 383 in 2010 (2009 had 402 deaths) about 28% decrease in deaths. But contrary to the CDC and NHTSA reports of the deaths each year, more people died wearing a safety helmet.

Year    Total Deaths    with helmet     without helmet            use not stated

2008          532                 292                         188                              52

2009          402                 214                         148                              40

2010          383                 196                         141                              46

* These numbers are taken directly from the HSMV yearly Traffic Crash Statistics Report which can be readily found at www.flhsmv.gov/html/safety.html

The fatalities per accident ratios have been very close, with some years favoring those who do not wear helmets.  For 2010 the ratios were 4.0% for those wearing helmets and 4.5% for those who were not wearing helmets.  If that helmet was as effective as non-riders believe, those ratios should be very different.

The CDC article is also misleading when it states that the economic cost of the deaths and injuries are passed on to the public. Currently on the NHSTA website is a Cost of Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Crashes synopsis of other studies of medical costs between helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims. Of eleven studies, the differences range from almost the same, to triple. The 1996 CODES Benefits of Safety Belts and Motorcycle Helmets actually had a chart between helmeted and non-helmeted motorcycle accident victims, with or without brain injuries, and the non-helmeted group had lower medical costs. The CDC report includes projections of what would be saved both medically and work loss productivity if motorcycle accident victim was wearing a helmet.  The costs are based on unpublished (non-verifiable) NHSTA data.

The report leads you to believe that every motorcyclist is uninsured. However a report titled Motorcycle Crash Trends in Florida presented in 2010 by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at USF, shows that 91% of the 2009 Hospitalizations in Florida for Nonfatal Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Traffic Crashes had a payer source.

Some reports tout that the yearly economic impact of motorcycle crashes is $385 million. Compare it to the total annual economic cost of alcohol and drug use is $43,766,641,733 (with a B as in BILLION).  That stat is from the Annual Economic Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use in Florida report dated July 20, 2009. In comparison, the economic impact of motorcycle medical cost is 0.88% of total annual cost of alcohol and drug economic cost.

ABATE of Florida, Inc. is not against wearing helmets, we are for safety awareness, education of everyone on the road, and the individuals’ right to choose.

For more information about ABATE of Florida, Inc. please visit our website www.abateflorida.com


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