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Motorcycle helmet laws, part 2: saving lives, sharing the road

In the first part of this post, we tried to put California’s motorcycle helmet law in national context.

We noted, for example, that California is one of 19 states in which helmets are mandatory for all motorcycle riders.

In this part of the post, we will look at federal data that provides an estimate of the number of lives that California’s helmet law is thought to have saved since it took effect in 1992.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths of motorcyclists in crashes have gone down by 37 percent.

The CDC also uses a metric that calculates lives saved per 100,000 registered motorcycles due to helmet use. In 2010, the CDC put its estimate of lives saved in California at 26 per 100,000 motorcycles on this scale.

The economic costs saved per 100,000 motorcycles, according to the CDC, was $53 million. This put California fifteenth nationally in lives saved and economic costs avoided as a result of helmet use.

It should also be emphasized, however, that the prevention of motorcycle accidents involves much more than whether someone is wearing a helmet. It also involves concerted efforts to encourage all motorists to share the road safely.

Historically, many motorists have often claimed that they “just didn’t see” a motorcyclist until it was too late to avoid an accident. Our concern is that, too often, this statement is used an excuse when a car or truck driver failed to share the road properly with a motorcyclist.

And so we insert this caveat, even as we report the CDC data on the estimated savings from helmet use.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,"Motorcyle Safety - California"

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