Every March, brain injury organizations and advocates work to promote awareness of the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families.
The Center joins the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) and the Brain Injury Association of Missouri (BIA-MO) in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month. The theme for this year is “Not Alone” in Brain Injury.
There are currently several bills in the Missouri legislature that would weaken our existing motorcycle helmet law: SB323, HB535, HB576 and HB588. The Center and other brain injury advocates stand in strong opposition to any proposed changes to Missouri Revised Statutes Section 302.020 (the existing helmet law).
Here is what we know:
- We know that helmets save lives and reduce the severity of injuries. Statistics show that when a helmet is not worn, injuries sustained by motorcyclists are classified as “disabling” are evident in 75 percent of cases.
- We know that when states repeal “all-rider” helmet usage laws, there is an increase in injuries and deaths from motorcycle accidents. When Texas repealed their all-rider helmet law in 1997, Texas had 55 un-helmeted riders who sustained a brain injury that year. By 2001, the number had increased to 511 – an increase of 829 percent in just four years.
- We know that minors-only helmet laws do not prevent injuries or deaths, because the high risk groups are ages well above 18 to 21. On Missouri roadways, motorcyclists ages 41 to 55 are the high risk group and account for more than 33 percent of fatalities and another 34 percent of injuries.
- We know that minors-only helmet laws are harder to enforce. Young riders know they cannot be stopped or inspected by law enforcement based solely on helmet usage. As a result, they defy the law, knowing that chances are good they will not be penalized, thus putting themselves at greater risk.
- We know that the average citizen trusts government to look out for their best interests when it comes to public safety. States with no “all-rider” helmet usage law see a 50 percent decrease in use of helmets because people expect lawmakers to be prudent and believe lawmakers would not promote legislation knowing it contains practices or policies that would make people less safe.
- We know that Missourians support our current helmet law. An April 2009 public opinion poll found that 84 percent of Missourians support our state’s mandatory helmet law.
If you would like assistance in expressing your concern to Missouri lawmakers that these changes to our motorcycle helmet law would weaken the safety on our roads and highways, please contact the Center at email@example.com. We are happy to help you contact your legislators.