Hopping on a motorcycle and cruising down the highway on a beautiful day is an appealing activity for many people, and that’s no surprise. Motorcycles offer a different type of riding experience that many people would describe as “freeing.”
But, with freedom comes responsibility. Because motorcycles offer so much less protection than vehicles that encase you in sturdy metal and ballooning airbags, it is your responsibility to take whatever safety measures possible to protect your life in the event of an accident.
Wearing a helmet is one of the most effective protectors for a motorcycle rider, but unfortunately many riders choose not to wear a helmet. There are several myths associated with wearing a motorcycle helmet and motorcycle helmet laws, most of them tied to the thought that a helmet interferes with the freedom of riding.
The NHTSA made a list of these myths, and facts that debunk them:
Myth: “Helmets impair hearing and sight.” Many riders claim that helmets interfere with peripheral vision and affect their ability to hear oncoming cars or emergency vehicles.
Fact: Scientific evidence has proven both of these common complaints to be untrue. As for the claim that helmets interfere with a rider’s peripheral vision: the regular amount of peripheral vision is between 200 and 220 degrees — federal regulations call for helmets to have 210 degrees of vision. Most crashes take place within 160 degrees of vision, proving that helmets do not contribute to crashes by limiting visibility. Helmets don’t negatively affect a rider’s ability to hear either: helmets reduce noise but not the capacity to discriminate between sounds. In fact, studies have proven that helmets function to preserve hearing by minimizing wind noise.
Myth: “Motorcycle helmet laws violate individual rights”. Some riders believe that law requiring them to wear helmets infringe on their freedom to choose and right to privacy.
Fact: Motorcycle helmet requirement laws are no different than any other traffic laws that are accepted without hesitation, such as obeying traffic signals and driving on the right side of the highway. These laws are put in place so that operators of vehicles are not a danger to themselves or other people on the road. Even if you are the most cautious rider on the road, being required to wear a helmet could save your life in case another person is driving negligently.
Myth: “Motorcycle are a small percentage of registered vehicles, thus motorcycle crashes represent a miniscule burden to society.” Because there aren’t as many motorcycles on the road as other vehicles, it is frequently thought that motorcycle accidents don’t happen as often.
Fact: Even though motorcycles only represent 2 percent of registered vehicles in America, motorcyclists’ deaths represent 5 percent of traffic deaths each year. The fatality rate for motorcyclists in 16 times that of car riders, and injury rate is 4 times that of car riders. Motorcycle accidents affect the lives of hundreds of people every year, and helmets can do a lot to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries that occur on a motorcycle.
In Alaska, it is required by law to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. As an accident attorney in Fairbanks, I have seen too many riders seriously injured because they opted to not wear additional protection. Even if an accident is caused by the negligence of another person, wearing a helmet can be the reason you live to get compensation you may deserve.
Everyone here at Ringstad Law Office, P.C. hope all motorcyclists enjoy their rides, and take what steps they can to protect themselves!