The debate about whether helmets help or hinder motorcyclists’ safety in a motorcycle accident has been going back and forth since motorcycles became an integral part of our culture. However, John Hopkins University School of Medicine asserts that the debate is over. A new study conducted by the school reveals that wearing a helmet does in fact reduce motorcyclists’ chances of suffering severe injuries in an motorcycle accident. And not only that, it reduces the risk of cervical spine injuries as well-a common argument used by lobbyists against mandatory helmet laws.
Between 2002 and 2006, the school reviewed more than 40,000 motorcycle accidents via the National Trauma Databank. The study found that helmet wearing motorists were 65 percent less likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries and 37 percent less likely to die in the event of an motorcycle accident.
Additionally, according to the study’s leader and assistant professor of surgery at John Hopkins University School of Medicine Adil H. Haider, the study also disclosed that motorcyclists who wore helmets were significantly less likely to suffer cervical spine injuries.
For years, lobbyists against a government mandated helmet law have argued that motorists who wear helmets are actually at an increased chance of suffering from cervical spine injuries because, they say, the weight of the helmet causes pressure to the neck and result in injury to the spine upon impact. (The lobbyists are basing their argument on a study conducted 25 years ago that indicated helmets cause spine injuries.)
But now, according to the John Hopkins’ study, this theory is wrong. The new study indicates that motorcyclists are actually 22 percent less likely to suffer spine injuries if they wear a helmet.
Unfortunately, many states do not have in place, or have repealed their mandatory helmet laws, like Florida. It remains to be seen whether the study will trigger legislatives to take a fresh look at the benefits of wearing helmets for motorcyclists and reconsider instigating mandatory helmet laws.
dated Friday, April 29, 2011