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Should I Always Wear a Motorcycle Helmet When Riding in Illinois?

Posted on in Motor Vehicle Collisions

Chicago motorcycle accident lawyerIllinois is one of the few states in the country that does not have a motorcycle helmet law. Our state leaves it up to individual riders to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. At Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwarz, we represent many motorcycle accident victims who have suffered terrible injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). With this in mind, we encourage riders around the state to consider some of the evidence around the safety and effectiveness of motorcycle helmets.

Helmets Do Not Meaningfully Restrict Vision or Hearing

Many riders refuse to wear a helmet because they believe it will restrict their vision or ability to hear. These are certainly legitimate concerns. A rider’s safety would be compromised if they could not see or hear as well, in which case a helmet could be counterproductive and could, in fact, cause an accident.

However, research has shown that these fears are not well-founded or supported. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated, a person’s range of vision, including peripheral vision, usually covers between 200-220 degrees. Helmets provide up to 210 degrees of vision—so that is very slight impairment if any at all. Further, more than 90 percent of accidents happen within a 160-degree range, which means that vision impairment caused by a helmet will not contribute to most collisions. A rider can easily counter any slight restriction in peripheral vision by simply moving her head a little bit more in either direction.

Helmets also do not significantly reduce the ability of a rider to hear important sounds. True, the helmet might reduce the sound of the wind, but the helmet will not impede the ability to hear critical traffic sounds like car horns.

Helmets Reduce Brain Injuries and Save Lives

If helmets do not impair riders, do they actually improve safety? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets significantly reduce the likelihood of suffering a brain injury by 41-69 percent. There have been over 50 studies that have looked at whether helmets reduce injuries, and the highest quality studies show the most benefit.

The fatality rate is also much higher for riders who are not wearing helmets, as high as 6.2 out of every 1,000 motorcycle accidents are fatal, compared to only 1.6 per 1,000 for those with helmets. This is almost a 400 percent increase in risk. With the right helmet, a biker is far more likely to walk away from a serious accident and to live to ride another day.

Should You Strap on a Helmet?

The CDC also found that universal helmet laws were effective at getting people to actually put one on. Unfortunately, Illinois has taken a different path, letting riders decide if they want the added protection. Safety experts generally agree that wearing a helmet is a simple but effective way to reduce the likelihood of a serious injury in the event of a crash.

Of course, no helmet provides 100 percent protection from serious injury. However, riders who want to reduce the chances of suffering disability or death should look for a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation and wear it whenever they ride.

Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Motorcycle accidents often leave victims in considerable pain and in need of expensive medical treatment. Fortunately, victims can receive compensation when someone else is to blame—even if they were not wearing a helmet. The experienced legal professionals at Livas Law Group, a Division of Kralovec, Jambois & Schwarz, can help. Contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury lawyers today to schedule your free consultation by calling 312-804-6102.

 

Sources:

https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/safebike/myths.html

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/calculator/factsheet/mchelmet.html

https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/article/21915142/michigan-repeals-motorcycle-helmet-law

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