Nebraska Says: Bikers, You Still Need Helmets
Motorcycle helmet laws have always been a highly debated and controversial issue, and both sides have very strong opinions. On one hand, helmets provide a common-sense shield that helps prevent serious head trauma and death. On the other hand, many (even a high percentage of those who do wear helmets) feel it is a freedom-of-choice issue, and that the law should not require anyone to wear a helmet. These bikers are quite adamant about this freedom, and will probably forever be fighting for their right to breeze down the freeway at 80 miles per hour with nothing but the wind in their hair.
Helmet Law Is Here to Stay in Nebraska
Although helmet law varies widely among the states, it won’t be changing anytime soon in Nebraska, where our Legislature recently killed off a bill that would allow motorcycle riders age 21 and older to ride without helmets.
State Senator John Lowe of Kearney introduced the controversial LB 368 bill to repeal Nebraska’s motorcycle helmet laws. Upon finding out that the bill hadn’t passed, Lowe said, “I’m sad for the motorcycle riders across the state. They didn’t get their freedoms restored today.” Supporters of the repeal bill believe that wearing a helmet should be a personal choice; however, safety advocates who support the current laws say that helmets cut down on injuries and deaths, as well as decrease the amount of taxpayer money spent caring for those suffering from severe motorcycle-related injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets. These are known as universal helmet laws. Laws that require only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states. And there is no motorcycle helmet law in three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire).
Some Statistics on Helmet Use
Proponents of motorcycle helmet laws often point to the fact that helmets have statistically been proven to save lives. Here are statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration related to motorcycle helmets and head injuries from a sample year:
- Motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,829 lives in 2008.
- Helmets would have saved an additional 822 lives if all riders were required to wear them.
- Helmet use led to nearly $3 billion in cost savings nationwide in 2008 alone.
- If all motorcyclists wore helmets that year, they could have saved an extra $1.3 billion.
- Traffic fatalities have decreased for other types of vehicles since 2000. But motorcycle fatalities have nearly doubled during that time.
- Motorcycle deaths now comprise about 14% of all traffic fatalities, a disproportionate figure considering that motorcycles make up only 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S.
Some claim that they have the right to ride without a helmet if they choose to, and that this decision will affect them only. That is simply not the case. A motorcyclist’s death impacts insurance rates, medical rates, and tax dollars. And that’s just from a bureaucratic point of view. More importantly, it impacts the family of the deceased, as well as anyone who might have been involved or witnessed the accident.
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own, we recommend you speak to an Omaha motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case and figure out the right course of action. The team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. offers a free consultation, so call (402) 505-8234 if you need us!
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