The end of March means that spring has finally arrived. Many who refrain from riding their motorcycle in the winter due to the weather conditions, including ice and snow on the roadways, have now likely began to prepare their bike for the new season. Many, in fact, are probably likely already set-up and ready to take advantage of the warming temperatures. Luckily Fayetteville, Bentonville and all of northwest Arkansas present appealing routes to travel on.
However, before you set out on your first ride of the season, make sure that your bike has been fully inspected and that is in good working order. Then, if you don’t already done so, please consider buying or putting on a helmet while you ride. You may be a perfectly competent rider, but other motorists may act carelessly or recklessly or there may be an unavoidable hazard or debris on the roadway. While state law does not require most adults to wear a helmet, doing so voluntarily can significantly reduce the risk of sustaining a life-altering injury such as a TBI or other potentially fatal wounds.
Most Motorcyclists in Arkansas are Not Required to Wear a Helmet
The text of the law pertaining to helmet use by motorcycle operators and passengers in Arkansas reads:
All passengers and operators of motorcycles and motor-driven cycles used upon the public streets and highways of this state shall be equipped with the following equipment under standards set forth by the Office of Motor Vehicle of the State of Arkansas:
(1) Protective headgear unless the person is twenty-one (21) years of age or older; and
(2) Protective glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields.
Now let’s break that down a bit. First let’s start with who is required to wear a helmet while riding on or operating a motorcycle in Arkansas. Any individual who has not yet achieved the age of 21, regardless of whether they are an operator or a passenger, must wear a helmet that meets the standards set forth by the Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicles. Individuals who have reached age 21 or greater are not required to wear a helmet by state law. The state’s right to set forth reasonable safety standards that protect the public welfare has been confirmed in matters including Penney v. City of North Little Rock, 248 Ark. 1158, 455 S.W.2d 132 (1970).
However, motorcyclists in the state and throughout the nation should still consider their health and safety and, ideally, should always wear a helmet and applicable safety gear because it can reduce the severity of injuries sustained in an accident.
Use of a DoT Approved Helmet Significantly Cuts Accident Fatality Rate
The CDC estimates that in 2010, the use helmets saved 7 lives in the state of Arkansas. While this number was in line with other states that have a partial coverage helmet law, states with a universal helmet coverage law perform significantly better. Neighboring Louisiana is home to a universal helmet law that the CDC believes saved 53 lives in 2010. In fact, the average number of lives saved in universal helmet law states was 36 while the average number of lives saved was 10 in states, like Arkansas, with a partial coverage law. States with no helmet laws performed the worst with an average of 4 lives saved.
Wearing a helmet and other safety gear while riding can, if the unthinkable happens and you are involved in a serious accident, increase your odds of being able to ride another day. Statistics calculated by the CDC find that use of a helmet decreases a motorcyclist’s risk of death by 37 percent. Furthermore, wearing a helmet reduces a motorcyclist’s risk of head injury by nearly 70%.
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most troubling injuries types, because the brain is the control center of the body. The brain controls your cognitive faculties, social skills, and vital organs. Damage to to it caused by a moderate to severe brain injury can disrupt these functions. In some circumstances a brain injury can be life threatening. Even in scenarios where death is unlikely, a TBI can still have life altering consequences. Depending on where the damage to the brain was inflicted, changes in personality and increased levels of aggression can occur. Others may suffer different types of damage and struggle with abstract concepts and figurative language. Still other TBI suffered may suffer debilitation headaches and difficulties with orienting themselves to time and place. In short, the consequences of a moderate to severe TBI are serious and in light of these consequences, it is prudent to take reasonable steps to protect yourself.
If you have already suffered a serious injury due to a careless or reckless motorist, contact Ken Kieklak. For more than 20 years our Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyers have fought to hold those responsible for serious injuries accountable. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.