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Wearing a Helmet is Good Practice for Bike Riders

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Whether you are a cyclist or motorcycle advocate, it makes good sense to strap on the helmet before setting out on the roadway. Head injury is one of the leading causes of death to those who venture out on the roadway on two wheels. For example:

More than 80 percent of all motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist.

Per mile driven, a motorcyclist is 16 times more likely to die in a crash than an automobile driver. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces that risk by almost one-third (29 percent).

Head injury is a leading cause of death in motor cycle crashes. Riders who don't wear helmets and who experience a crash are 40 percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury.

A study of 900 motorcycle crashes (conducted by the University of Southern California) showed that wearing a helmet was the single most critical factor in preventing or reducing head and neck injuries among motorcycle drivers and passengers.

From 1984 through 1995, helmets saved the lives of more than 7,400 motorcyclists. But more than 6,300 additional deaths could have been prevented if all riders had been wearing helmets.

Studies show that laws requiring helmet use are very effective in reducing motorcycle fatalities because such laws influence more people to wear helmets. In Louisiana, the first state to repeal and then re-adopt a helmet law for all riders, there were 30 percent fewer motorcycle deaths during 1982, the first year that the helmet law was reinstated.

While we teach our children to wear head protection when on their bicycles, we often do not follow our own advice.

There are 85 million bicycle riders in the US.

784 bicyclists died on US roads in 2005. 92% of them died in crashes with motor vehicles (720).

About 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and 27,000 have injuries serious enough to be hospitalized.

Bicycle crashes and injuries are under-reported, since the majority are not serious enough for emergency room visits.

1 in 8 of the cyclists with reported injuries has a brain injury.

Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.

A very high percentage of cyclists' brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet, estimated at anywhere from 45 to 88 per cent.

As an attorney representing the families of those whose loved ones have suffered traumatic brain injury, I can attest to the devastation that results when a family member suffers a head injury. Traumatic brain injury certainly can cause death, but it also can cause disabling injury requiring extensive and costly rehabilitation. For many people, a brain injury triggers a significant change in lifestyle and function. Brain injury can vary from essentially minor disability to prolonged dependence on a ventilator to breathe and permanent loss of normal function. These serious brain injuries take their toll on families caring for an injured loved one.