Weakening helmet laws over the years have led to a rise in the number of deaths of motorcycle riders on U.S. roads. Now, a new study reveals that not wearing a motorcycle helmet leads to higher medical insurance claims.
The Highway Loss Data Institute has just completed a study that found medical insurance claims for motorcycle injuries were 22 percent higher in states that don’t require riders to wear helmets. The study examined the impact of medical insurance claims in Michigan first, and compared that result with other states, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.
Michigan loosened its motorcycle helmet laws last April. The new law only requires motorcycle riders under the age of 21 to wear helmets, so many older riders soon ditched theirs. In Michigan alone, the average medical insurance payout for a motorcycle injury was nearly $7,300. For the two years prior to the passage of the weakened law, the average motorcycle injury claim was $5,400. Those figures were adjusted for several factors to reach the national average of 22 percent, according to AP.
The Impact of Weaker Helmet Laws
This is the first study to examine the impact of medical insurance claims and costs caused by loosened motorcycle helmet laws. Previous studies have shown that motorcycle riders who choose not to wear a helmet are more likely to die in a crash than those who do wear one. Last year, more than 5,000 deaths were reported among motorcycle riders, and that rate has increased in 14 of the past 15 years, according to data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association, according to AP. More than 14 percent of all highway deaths are motorcycle riders, an all-time high.
And despite the rise in motorcycle injuries and deaths, states continue to weaken laws, making the wearing of a helmet an option instead of a requirement. Nineteen states require all riders to wear a helmet, according to AP; only three states have no helmet laws on the books at all. As well, no federal incentives to encourage the passage of tighter state laws are in the works.