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Summertime has finally reached the American Midwest, and for many, that means that motorcycle season is in full swing. Even non-riders can appreciate the appeal of a cruise on the open road with the sun shining down and the wind blowing across one’s face. In cities and towns around the state, motorcycles also offer a fuel-efficient, fun mode of transportation. Illinois, however, is rather unique in its statutory requirements for motorcycle riders—specifically regarding the use of helmets. As it currently stands, Illinois is one of just three states, along with Iowa and New Hampshire, that have no laws in place regarding the use of protective helmets while riding a motorcycle.
A Before and After Study
Over the last several decades, other states have experimented with relaxing their helmet laws as well, including the state of Michigan. In 2012, the Michigan state legislature repealed its universal helmet requirement in favor of a statute that permitted most riders to ride without helmets. Last fall, a research team at Michigan State University took an in-depth look at the impact of the weakened helmet law.
The team examined data compiled in a statewide trauma databases aimed at quality improvement to determine if and how the rate of head and facial injuries have changed since the law was amended. Their research encompassed more than 4,600 patients injured in motorcycle accidents and treated in 29 trauma facilities throughout the state in the three years prior to the law change and the three years after.
The rate of head and face injuries increased by almost half from 25.5 percent of trauma patients before the law change to 37 percent under the current version. The proportion of trauma patients who were not wearing helmets also increased dramatically. Under the old law, about one in five trauma patients did not wear a helmet. Under the new law, that number jumped to 44 percent. Based on their findings, the research team encouraged lawmakers to reconsider weakening helmet laws.
An Ongoing Debate
With no helmet laws currently on the books in Illinois, it seems unlikely that any will be passed soon. Public safety officials face strong opposition from motorcycle owners’ groups and others concerned about personal freedoms. While the dangers may seem obvious, many riders are willing to accept those risks in exchange for the liberty to ride however they wish.
Whether you choose to wear a helmet or not, a motorcycle crash can change your life. If you have been injured, an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call 630-920-8855 for a free consultation at Martoccio & Martoccio today.
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