About half of all U.S. states require motorcyclists to wear helmets. All but three remaining states have conditional helmet laws. There are no requirements to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Illinois, although bike manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, transportation officials and safety advocates strongly recommend helmet use.
Powerful arguments are made for and against helmet restrictions. Motorcyclists sometimes complain helmets are freedom-restricting, uncomfortable and a liability for hearing and seeing surrounding traffic. Helmet proponents say the added protection helps riders avoid being injured in a motorcycle accident. The risks of riding without a helmet are substantial.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 110 of the 145 riders who died in state motorcycle accidents in 2011 were not wearing helmets. Fatality numbers are expected to increase, not because going helmetless is any more popular but because more Illinois residents are choosing to ride.
Statewide motorcycle registrations have soared 57 percent in the last 10 years. Motorcycle accidents increased proportionately, including a 13 percent jump in motorcycle fatalities between 2010 and 2012.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourages the use of protective gear for every motorcyclist along with training, licensing and refresher classes. Motorcyclists’ defensive driving skills prevent collisions, but without awareness among car and truck drivers, riders’ crash prevention techniques are diminished.
Drivers often forget or ignore smaller vehicles, despite a motorcyclist’s equal right to share the road. Car drivers fail to check for a motorcycle before shifting into a passing lane or incorrectly judge a bike’s speed and distance. Negligent behavior by any rider or driver who causes harm may result in criminal and civil penalties.
Motorcycle accident victims are eligible for personal injury compensation the same as anyone else hurt in an auto accident. When evidence of defendant negligence is proven, juries award plaintiffs damages for medical costs, lost wages and accident-related emotional trauma.
morrisdailyherald.com, “Let riders, motorists exercise more safety with motorcycles” No author given, Sep. 06, 2013