“Which motorcycle safety laws and regulations are most effective in saving lives?”
“Motorcycles make up less than 2% of all registered vehicles in the United States, yet they accounted for 11% of the total traffic-related fatalities in 2006” (Derrick and Faucher 3). General motorcycle safety consists of proper personal protective equipment, obedience to the rules of road and safe riding. The purpose of this research paper is to explain which laws and regulations when applied to motorcycle riders save the most lives.
This glaring difference between a motorcycle and a car is the lack of any protection from the road or obstructions. “NHTSA has estimated that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill an occupant” (Ecola 33). The only form of protection equipment against a head injury in a motorcycle accident is a helmet. Car crashes routinely result in driver walking away due to the protection provided from the cars material itself.
The most important part of the body is the head; it houses the brain, which without the person cannot survive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated 1800 lives were saved in 2008 by wearing a helmet and another 800 could have been saved if all riders wore helmets (Ecola 36). This alone should motivate people to wear a helmet at all times when riding but in states that don’t require a helmet many riders choose to not wear one. The leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes came from head injuries, most coming from head-on collisions with cars and single motorcycle crashes. From 1979-1986 53% of motorcycle rider deaths came from head-injuries (Lin and Kraus). The most common head injuries came from skull fractures, facial fractures, brain hemorrhages or contusions. While head injuries are the most fatal of all injuries other injuries to the body caused by a motorcycle crash such as liver lacerations, punctured lungs or severe bleeding cause between 7% and 25% of non-head injury deaths. Basic rider training provided by licensed training professionals provide many of the basic fundamentals of riding. A rider who has never sat down on a motorcycle can sign up and attend a basic rider course and walk away with the basic safety rules, regulations, and practices for everyday riding (Kresnak 25). The basic rider course teaches fundamental skills needed for every rider. The course begins with familiarization with the motorcycle, leading to starting the engine and its control. After introduction the rider is faced with riding, balancing, and and. throughout the training a rider will encounter challenges ranging from quick stops to swerving between offset cones. The course concludes with a graded course combining the skills acquired throughout the course. Many states consider the basic rider course sufficient enough to grant a license to a rider with only their basic rider course completion card (Ecola 69) Motorcycle helmet laws have changed drastically throughout the last forty years. In 1966 the US secretary was authorized by the Highway Safety Act to withhold 10% of federal highway funds from all states that didn’t require helmets for riders. By the early 1970’s, almost all the states had universal motorcycle helmet laws, which require all riders, of any age, to wear a helmet. Thirty-six states adopted universal helmet laws in by 1968; by 1975 forty-seven states had universal helmet laws. In 1976, states lobbied congress to stop the Department of Transportation from assessing financial penalties on states without helmet laws. In 1976 congress amended Highway Safety Act requiring only riders under the age of eighteen to wear a helmet, leading to twenty-eight states repealing or significantly amending their motorcycle helmet laws (Muller 586). In 1991 congress addressed the issue of motorcycle crash fatalities and passed the Intermodal