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Can a Helmet Protect Me in a Motorcycle Accident?

Whether you are a regular rider or not you’ve likely heard time and time again that motorcyclists should always wear a helmet. But, are helmets actually effective? Our Panama City motorcycle accident attorney explains exactly how a helmet can protect you in a crash.

Helmet Safety Statistics

Motorcycle riding poses so many risks that it can be hard to believe that a simple helmet can be the one thing separating a painful accident from a fatal one. However, there is ample evidence proving the promise of helmets as a deterrent for brain damage and death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that helmets are 37% effective in preventing deaths in a motorcycle accident, and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in the year 2016 and that “the single most effective way for states to save lives and save money is a universal helmet law.” A comprehensive 2018 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) presents much of the most recent fatality data in detail.

So, what makes a helmet so effective? Motorcycle helmets are engineered to absorb the impact of your head hitting an obstacle like the ground—the less impact there is at the crash point, the less impact your neck and spine are subjected to. Spine injuries and brain injuries are two of the most catastrophic types of accident injuries as they commonly lead to permanent disability and/or death.

Are Helmets Required in Florida?

Florida’s helmet law has a long and convoluted history. We’ve written about this topic before, but the short answer is yes—by law you are required to wear a helmet if you are riding a motorcycle.

Under 316.211 of Florida's Motor Vehicle statutes, “a person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head.”

However, there is a controversial caveat. Section 316.211(3)(b) reads:

“A person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.”

The law didn’t always read this way. There is evidence that Florida’s repeal of a universal helmet law in 2000 has led to more motorcycle crash fatalities statewide. To learn more about this law, read our blog post Florida Motorcycle Helmet Issues Continue to Stir Debate.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, our Panama City motorcycle accident attorneys can help. We have over 30 years of experience winning accident cases throughout Florida and the South. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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