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Florida's Decision to Repeal Universal Helmet Law Continues to Exact High Death Toll

The debate over mandatory helmet laws continues to wage in many states. However, enough time has passed since Florida and a number of other states repealed their universal helmet laws to assess the impact of these reforms. Florida exempted adult motorcycle riders with a minimum of $10,000 in health insurance coverage from mandatory helmet use in 2000. In the immediate aftermath of modification of the Florida helmet law, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities increased substantially. While a higher number of registered motorcycles explains some of the increased deaths, the majority of the additional fatalities involved riders without helmets.

Our surge in fatal motorcycle accidents has made Florida a case study for why universal helmet laws should not be eased in other states. During the three years prior to modification of Florida's universal helmet law, our state was the site of approximately 160 motorcycle deaths annually. Helmet use plummeted the year after the helmet law was revised, and the number of motorcycle fatalities soared to 246, amounting to a 65 percent increase in a single year. By 2006, the number of motorcycle accident deaths in Florida had risen to an all-time high of 550. During the initial five year period after Florida's helmet law was changed, the state experienced nearly a 3.5 fold increase in motorcycle accident deaths. Although the number of fatalities dropped as the economy soured, this trend has since reversed.

Although all states that eliminated or loosened their laws requiring universal helmet use have seen a rise in motorcycle fatalities, Florida has seen the highest increase because the climate allows for a longer riding season. A sufficient enough period of time has passed to allow federal safety authorities to reach some conclusions about the impact of repealing universal helmet laws. States with universal helmet laws save eight times more riders lives per 100,000 registered motorcycles annually than states without helmet laws. Universal helmet jurisdictions also save three time more lives than states with a partial helmet law according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is now a range of data that indicates universal helmet laws both increase helmet use and reduce motorcycle crash-related injuries and deaths. While helmet usage tends to approach a hundred percent in states where helmet use is mandatory, the percentage of motorcyclists who strap on helmets drops to fifty percent in states without helmet laws. Helmets decrease the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent and reduce the risk of brain injuries by 67 percent.

Our Florida motorcycle accident attorneys see the devastating impact of motorcyclists exposed to inattentive and careless drivers. Motorcyclists tend to suffer severe injuries in crashes because they have virtually no protection. Regardless of the type of motorcycle, bikes do not provide a protective frame, air bags, seat belts, or other safety features that are standard in passenger cars. Because of this high degree of vulnerability, motorcycle riders are 35 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than occupants of passenger cars according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Further, the federal agency reports that riders without helmets face a forty percent higher risk of suffering a fatal head injury than helmeted riders. This fact is particularly relevant because head injuries are the leading cause of motorcycle accident fatalities.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injuries Experienced in Florida Motorcycles Accidents

If you or a close family member suffers a serious injury or you lose someone you love in a motorcycle crash, our Miami Motorcycle Crash Injury Lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano work diligently to obtain a full recovery for our clients. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida's top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

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