I’m going to talk about a heated debate that I recently had about the ever-controversial helmet issue. The other party said to me that he thought that the Georgia helmet law ought to go to the Texas model, and perhaps modified a little bit.
First, let me tell you what the Texas model is, and then I’ll tell you what my response was as a motorcycle accident attorney.
What Are The Motorcycle Helmet Laws In Texas?
Texas helmet law says anyone under 21 has to wear DOT approved motorcycle helmets. If you’re over 21, you don’t have to wear a helmet, and therefore it’s not against the law to not wear one if you do one of two things: you take a safety course or you have medical insurance of at least $10,000.
Soo that was his response, “hey, we ought to make it free will and require riders to have a certain amount of coverage and then they can make the choice,” and I understand that. Being probably more of a libertarian politically, I don’t want the government telling me what to do, so I get that angle.
But, for me in the cases that I get year in and year out and just hearing in general about all of these wrecks that are happening because the general public is not looking out for motorcycle riders, I think you’ve got to put free will and personal decisions aside and that the law is good the way it is. You’ve got to wear a helmet in Atlanta. You’ve got to be safe because you never know when you may be the one that gets hit by somebody.
What Does Data Say About the Effective of Helmet Laws By State?
If you know me at this point by watching some of these videos, you know that I love empirical data. So, I threw back at him some empirical data as my response and said, “Look I get it, but here’s what the empirical data shows in states where they repealed helmet laws, similar to Texas or even much lenient than Texas.”
The study showed that afterward, traumatic brain injuries increased by 60 percent or more, deaths increased by 30% or more, and this is in the motorcycle riders themselves. One study from 2015 showed that if helmets had been worn in fatal accidents, 700 and some odd individuals in America would not be dead, and that kind of struck me.
That’s 700 lives, just because they didn’t want to wear a helmet, and to me, at the end of the day I look at that and I say, “Come on. I get it, you want to have your own choice. I understand that, but we’ve got to also recognize that this is a dangerous hobby riding a bike. Not because of us. Not because of us riders out there, but because of other people, and we can’t be sure that we’re not going to be the next one that is knocked off our bike, and you’ve got to have that helmet to protect yourself.”
In the end, looking at the data suggests that these helmet laws are there to ultimately protect the rider and the empirical data backs that up; and it’s just absolutely necessary that we wear the correct helmet, not just any helmet but the correct helmet.
Should We Change the Georgia Helmet Law?
Do you think we ought to go to the Texas model and put the onus on the biker that you’re going to have to get enough insurance to cover injuries that you sustain, even if it’s by a third-party because you’re not wearing a helmet? Or should we keep the law where we are, or maybe some variation of that?
For over 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.