Riders fought for a very long time to repeal the law requiring motorcycle helmets in Florida. Well, they finally won ... or did they?
Motorcycle deaths in Fla. soared 81% after helmet law was repealed, study says
Posted August 8 2005, 6:29 AM EDT
MIAMI -- A federal study has found motorcycle fatalities in Florida increased more than 81 percent, and the number of deaths for riders younger than 21 nearly tripled, in three years after state lawmakers repealed a law requiring riders to wear a helmet.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study also found injuries have become more expensive to treat. The average hospital cost to treat a head injury was $45,602, more than four times the $10,000 insurance non-helmeted riders are required to carry.
But the study also noted that some of the increase in fatalities can be attributed to alcohol use, speed and increased ridership.
Preusser Research Group, a Connecticut research firm specializing in transportation and highway safety, conducted the study for the federal agency.
The data suggests helmet use has declined, even among riders younger than 21 who are still required by state law to wear helmets, according to the agency.
In the three years before the July 1, 2000, repeal of the helmet law, 9 percent of the 515 motorcyclists killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet. Of the 35 motorcyclists younger than 21 killed in crashes during those three years, 26 percent were not wearing helmets.
In the three years after the repeal, 61 percent of the 933 fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet. Of the 101 riders younger than 21 who were killed in those three years, 45 percent were not wearing a helmet.
``The numbers are pretty compelling that Florida has paid a high price,'' said Rae Tyson, an agency spokesman. ``There is enough here for any state contemplating a helmet repeal to realize there are serious consequences.''
Head-injury hospital admissions rose 80 percent and the cost for hospitals to treat head, brain or skull injuries more than doubled, from $21 million to $50 million, according to the study.
James Reichenbach, president of ABATE of Florida, who lobbied to repeal the helmet law in 2000, said the federal agency is biased against riders who do not wear helmets.
He said the increase in fatalities can be largely attributed to motorcycles' increasing popularity.