40% Increase in MO Motorcycle Crash Fatalities Since Mandated Helmet Law Lifted
Posted on September 23rd, 2022 by Zane Cagle
Importance of Motorcycle Helmets
Missouri saw a forty (40) percent increase in motorcycle fatalities after lifting the mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 2020. By the summer of 2021, the number of traffic fatalities had soared in spite of greatly decreased traffic. This was not difficult to predict. Every single state that has lifted motorcycle helmet law mandates saw these same drastic increases in preventable deaths. Preventable deaths are by definition, a tragedy.
To legally ride without a helmet in Missouri, the assumption is made that the individual is over the age of 25 years and possesses proof of health insurance or other form of insurance. This is often a false assumption. Simply put, there are far too many people who are operating passenger vehicles without auto insurance let alone motorcycle insurance which can cost more. If you are familiar with the severity of motorcycle crashes, health insurance and auto insurance; then you know that even with coverage, the expenses of a serious injury are often financially crippling to for most families. The minimum and most common type of motorcycle insurance is $25,000.000 which is the bare minimum. Also, $25K does not buy much medical treatment. Even if an injured person is adequately insured, it is most often a battle to get the insurance carrier to pay the claims. Do you know a person who hasn’t fought to get a test or prescription covered? Considering the literal physical battle an injured person is fighting daily to recover, dealing with insurance carriers on your own is far from reasonable. Hire an expert motorcycle accident attorney.
So far, we have just mentioned the economic costs. We are not economist but we are very familiar with the financial costs of serious injuries. Daily, I work with those injured who have life-changing injuries and upended lives. The total costs are almost impossible to measure. The severity of the injuries and violence of vehicle crashes always makes me think about prevention. No one can actually look at the facts and gore of a severe injury or death without thinking about prevention. We frequently post articles advocating the safety and prevention of motorcycle crashes. We all need to pay closer attention as we have reached a 20 year high in roadway fatalities in 2022.
Safety is About Prevention and Reduction
Prevention is safety. Helmets and seat belts help in prevention and reduction of fatalities and serious injuries. Prevention also includes safe operation of motor vehicles such as operating at safe speeds and following rules of the roadway. Seat belts increase your survivability rate by 45 percent in passenger vehicles and helmets increase survivability rates by 37-40% effective in motorcycle crashes. Twenty percent is a significant rate, but 40-45% is really outstanding.
Regardless of the change in Missouri law, the physics of violent motorcycle crashes remain. Repeal of a mandatory helmet law does not imply that it is safe to ride without a helmet. No matter how well you ride, you are vulnerable on the highways and interstates.
Differing Opinions Over Helmet Mandates
While motorcycle helmets are no longer required for motorcyclists in Missouri (who meet the law requirement), they continue to be highly recommended by motorcycle safety experts. No, a helmet cannot stop all injuries but they greatly reduce the number of fatalities and head injuries. There are some theories about the rise in all types of motor vehicle crashes and helmet use specifically after the repeal in 2020. One of those theories by a local rider is that much like the mask mandates, the motorcycle helmet laws have become politized. Maybe. According to a 2021 piece by NPR where many motorcyclists on both sides of the river (Missouri and Illinois) shared perspective, several riders feel that equivalizing masks to motorcycle helmets and freedom is a serious health risk. (Illinois is one of the other few states that do not require helmets). One rider expressed his sentiment in this way,
“I wouldn’t be caught dead on the road–I wouldn’t even go out of my driveway–without a helmet. From a safety standpoint, I think there is something far more important. I like to ask young riders, or even experienced riders: What superpower do you have when you are on a motorcycle? The correct answer is not ‘I can fly’ or “freedom’; the correct answer is that you’re invisible. And if you don’t believe that, you’re going to be a statistic helmet or no helmet”
Another rider explained that he grew up hearing his mom call helmet-less cyclists “organ donors” and an uncle that was a police officer and was on scene for accidents…I think those anchored my position. So me personally , I wear a helmet”
Bottom Line, We All Want to Ride Safely and Alive
Of the 14 fatal motorcycle crashes in Missouri between August 1, 2022 and September 20, 2022; twelve(12) fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing helmets and two were (MSHP reports). Seven of the motorcycle crash fatalities involved other vehicles colliding with the motorcycle and one involved a deer. Six of the motorcycle fatalities were single-vehicle crashes. In the same time period, there were approximately 76 serious injuries. In those incidents, about 30 were not wearing helmets, 39 were wearing helmets, two were unknown and one exempt. Of those serious injuries-47 were involved in single vehicle crashes, 17 of those serious injuries involved other vehicles and six involved collisions with deer. (Numbers vary as some crashes had more than one rider) . We have seen a much reduced helmet usage rate in Missouri as expected when the mandatory law was lifted.
Helmets are like seatbelts in passenger vehicles. No, neither device can prevent all serious injury or death. But when the efficacy rate is over 40%, it seems like more than just a good idea.
Motorcyclists are “invisible”. No, they are not literally invisible, but every motorcyclist knows the daily struggle of being seen on the roadway by other motorists. When other motorists do not see or worse, don’t look for you, then you are more vulnerable. Motorcyclists must wear reflective clothing, follow rules of the roadway and try to anticipate other driver’s behaviors. Unfortunately, it can seem that as a motorcyclist you have to take on a great deal more responsibility for safety and driver wisdom than other drivers. It does not only “seem” that way, it is reality. Experienced motorcyclists know that they have to be ever vigilant and try to anticipate other driver’s moves.
If You’re Injured, You Will Need Legal Help
We understand the challenges that every motorcyclists face when injured in a crash. Motorcyclists are always on the lookout for that other driver who fails to yield when making a left-hand turn when they do not notice a motorcycle in oncoming traffic. Motorcyclists know this is the most common type of traffic threat. Motorcyclists try to anticipate other driver’s decision. We also understand that those who have ridden for many years are typically safe riders simply because motorcycle rid
Thus, if you are injured in a motorcycle crash involving another vehicle, then you are probably seriously hurt. Those seriously hurt do need a personal injury attorney with a plan. We understand. Our business is assisting people after serious injury. It is often some of the most challenging and months and years they will ever face in their lives. It is a process and not a process anyone elects to do because they want to do so. The injury happens to them and we assist in sorting the legal issues so that the injured person can focus on healing and restoring some normalcy to their lives.