Motorcycles usually face more risks in an auto accident than any other motorist on the road. Since motorcycles are smaller and expose riders to the elements, a crash can be devastating and life-changing.
There are ways that motorcyclists can protect themselves on the road, though some of those protections can spark a huge debate.
Helmets can be a controversial issue among motorcyclists. Some arguments state that laws requiring helmets infringe on an individual's personal rights, whereas others state that helmet use can significantly reduce the chance of a head injury in the event of an accident.
Helmets: Myth v. fact
Regardless of the arguments and perspectives about motorcycle helmets, there are a few common myths that surround helmet use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) addresses some of these myths, including:
- Helmets can cause other injuries: Helmets are meant to protect motorcyclists' heads in an accident. But some people worry that the weight of a helmet could lead to other more severe injuries to the neck or spinal cord. However, several studies, including one in Illinois, determined this is untrue.
- Helmets hinder vision: Some motorcyclists worry that a helmet could block their peripheral vision. This would be dangerous, as all motorists must rely heavily on their vision while on the road. The NHTSA reports that it is against federal safety standards for helmets to impair vision or hearing.
So, how effective are helmets?
The NHTSA also confirms that traumatic head or brain injuries are the leading cause of fatalities in motorcycle accidents. And wearing a helmet can significantly decrease the chance of a fatality in a crash by nearly 37%.
There is no doubt that motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable motorists on the road, regardless of the gear they wear. However, there is evidence that a helmet can measurably improve their safety.
What are other ways motorcyclists can stay safe?
Illinois law does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet. They still have the choice to wear one or not. However, there are other measures that motorcyclists can take to protect themselves on the road, including:
- Paying attention to the road and being defensive around other drivers
- Avoiding riding at night to increase visibility
- Checking the motorcycle regularly to keep it in working condition
It is also critical to note that state law might not require helmets, but it does require eye protection.
Regardless of a motorcyclist's perspective about wearing a helmet, it is beneficial for individuals to consider how they can stay safe, so they can continue to ride the open roads.