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Complying With Universal Helmet Laws is Just One Step Towards Motorcycle Safety

Jan 9, 2015 - Motorcycle Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

In 1967, Alabama was among the first four states to implement universal helmet laws that require all individuals who ride motorcycles to use helmets. To be sure, enactment of the law has helped to save lives. Still, most accident lawyers believe motorcyclists and their passengers should take additional preventive actions to further protect themselves from the risk of potentially devastating injuries.

Studies Show that the Move to Universal Helmet Laws Has Improved Rider Safety

Motorcycles offer little protection, so most people can clearly see why the use of good-quality helmets is so important. Still, individuals who like to feel the wind in their hair may need more evidence. The Community Preventive Task Force offers the following median statistics for states that switched from partial helmet laws or no laws to  universal helmet laws:

  • The total number of deaths decreased by 37 percent.
  • Fatalities related to head injuries went down by 44 percent.
  • The total number of non-fatal injuries decreased by 32 percent.
  • The total number of non-fatal head injuries went down by 51 percent.

On the other end, states that repealed universal helmet laws completely or reduced the laws saw similar increases in the median value of these same statistics.

Bikers Can Do More to Protect Themselves

Helmets represent an essential first step in biker protection, but riders can do much more to protect as many body parts as possible. Our Tuscaloosa attorneys recommend that every biker download a copy of Personal Protective Gear For the Motorcyclist. This two-page brochure, issued by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, provides a full list of protective gear, such as the following:

  • Rain suits
  • Hearing protection
  • Face shields
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Jackets, pants and riding suits

Use Color to Help Avoid Accidents

Cars often strike motorcycles simply because they do not see the smaller vehicles or they notice them too late. Bikers in the market for new vehicles might consider choosing brightly-colored bikes rather than black. However, no one needs to purchase a new bike to become more visible to other drivers. Choosing the right color helmet and other protective gear can make a major difference in a rider’s ability to be seen during the day and after dark.

Overall, the best strategy is to choose colors that do not blend in with likely backgrounds. For example, neon yellow and lime green colors are highly unlikely to blend in with anything, including other vehicles on the road. These colors, along with white, are readily picked up by headlights.

Real Freedom Comes from Safe Trips

All too often, riders see protective gear as an affront to their personal freedom on the road — until they suffer an accident that results in injuries ranging from road rash to lost hearing or eyesight. Properly designed and well-fitted motorcycle gear does not have to be restrictive or uncomfortable. No one can guarantee that bikers will escape all injuries. However, they can often avoid a hospital stay by taking a proactive approach to their safety.

Additional Resources:

Alabama Motorcycle Operator Manual, 16th edition

Motorcycle Conspicuity, Skilled Motorcyclist Association

Other Blog Entries:

Fewer Alabama Motorcycle Injuries Possible With Anti-lock Brake Systems, Birmingham Motorcycle Accidents Blog

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