Know the Risks of Riding Without a Helmet
One of the biggest thrills of riding a motorcycle is the thrill of the wind blowing past you. For some motorcyclists, however, a helmet takes away from that somehow, making them feel as though they’re giving up a little freedom by protecting themselves.
For that reason, the repeal of universal helmet laws in many states has provided long-awaited relief. Bikers are now free to hit the open road bareheaded, putting themselves at increased risk of personal injury or even death.
Once it is revealed that you weren’t wearing a helmet, your credibility will be diminished in the eyes of the judge, the attorneys, and any other parties who might be involved, including a jury.
But there are still several states in which universal helmet laws apply. Even in states like Indiana, where the laws were repealed in 1977, those under the age of 18 must wear a helmet, even when riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. But even for adults who decide to go helmet-less, there are a few legal considerations before hitting the open road.
Your Credibility May Be Lowered
Let’s say you’re in a motorcycle accident that was no fault of your own, but have to take a guilty party to court to pay for medical fees or other damages. Once it is revealed that you weren’t wearing a helmet, your credibility will be diminished in the eyes of the judge, the attorneys, and any other parties who might be involved, including a jury. Whether it’s fair or not, they’ll be influenced by the fact you weren’t wearing a helmet; the impression being that if you weren’t concerned enough for your own safety to wear a helmet, how can the judge or anyone else be expected to see you as a victim?
Your Perceived Liability May Be Increased
If part of your legal claim is a request to be compensated for medical costs associated with an accident, your own part in the injury will likely be called into question. Obviously you wouldn’t be injured in the first place if the accident hadn’t occurred. However – if you’d been wearing a helmet, would the injuries have been less severe (and therefore less costly)?
You Could Suffer Injury or Death
Of course, the most serious consequence of failing to wear a helmet is that you may experience such a severe injury that you are unable to appear in court to plead your own case. Or your accident may be fatal. These are worst case scenarios, but according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, motorcycle deaths rose nine percent in 2012 to 5,000 fatalities. In fact, injuries and fatalities are a reality with biking, with fatalities rising 14 out of the past 15 years.
Regardless of the law, bikers still have the option of wearing a properly-fitting helmet—preferably one that meets the Snell standard. Good, sturdy shoes and protective eyewear are also important. The law is only one of the concerns you should have as you enjoy one of the most exciting travel experiences a person can have.