Pennsylvania Senate Urged to Keep Lifesaving Motorcycle Helmet Law
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), an alliance of consumer, health, safety, insurance and law enforcement organizations, strongly opposes the motorcycle helmet repeal bill being considered by the Pennsylvania Senate, SB 259. Advocates is part of a Pennsylvania statewide coalition of 25 organizations.
This proposed legislation would exempt riders 21 and over from the current all-rider motorcycle helmet law. In other states where similar minors-only laws have replaced all-rider helmet laws, helmet use rates have plummeted and motorcyclist fatalities have increased, said Judith Lee Stone, president of Advocates. Proponents of SB 259 say that it is a rider's choice whether or not to wear a helmet; however, whether as taxpayers, insurance customers or medical consumers, we all pay the price for that decision - we have no choice.
The current all-rider motorcycle helmet law reduces taxpayer expenses for health care by millions of dollars. Many motorcyclists are uninsured or underinsured, resulting in the expenditure of public dollars for medical bills and lifelong care in the event of a crash. A California study found that public funds pay for 82% of the costs of treating motorcycle crash injuries. A study done in Baltimore, Maryland, found that acute care costs for non-helmeted riders averaged three times those of helmeted riders.
According to the most current statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, motorcycle crashes in the state reached a five-year high in 2000 with 2,837 crashes - nearly all of which involved injury to the motorcyclist. One hundred fifty of those crashes were fatal. Undoubtedly, many more of these crashes would have been fatal had the motorcyclist not been helmeted.
Pennsylvania has had an all-rider helmet law in place for the last 35 years, noted Stone. Today, when we are seeing an increase in motorcyclist injuries and deaths, it makes no sense to weaken a law that is protecting riders. When there is an outbreak of a disease, do you stop administering the vaccine?
The majority of people understand that this law is needed to protect all travelers - saving both lives and money, continued Stone. A 2001 Harris Poll showed that 81% of the American public is in favor of all-rider helmet laws. Advocates believes that this is not a freedom of choice issue; it is a public safety issue. A crash can occur in a fraction of a second. In that instant, a motorcycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death.
Mike Wozniak contributes and publishes news editorial to http://www.all-motorcycle-helmets.com.
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