Tennessee is currently one of 19 states in the U.S. that require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, but some lawmakers in TN are working to change that. The proposed “Liberty Restoration Act” would make helmet use an optional choice for TN motorcyclists over the age of 21, and riders who meet certain minimum insurance and training requirements would pay a $50 fee to display a sticker on their vehicle permitting them to ride without a helmet. Although helmets aren’t guaranteed to save the life of motorcycle accident victims, they have been shown to reduce the risk of injury and death in individuals involved in motorcycle accidents. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Tennessee allegedly caused by another person’s negligence, contact our experienced attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associates today for legal help.
Risk of Motorcycle Accident Injury and Death
While there are plenty of people who support the proposed motorcycle helmet bill, those in opposition cite studies involving states that have weakened their motorcycle helmet laws, showing a marked increase in both human tragedy and financial costs. In Pennsylvania for example, a peer-reviewed study published in August 2008 found a 66% increase in fatalities caused by head injuries, as well as a 25% increase in non-head injury deaths, after the state’s helmet law was relaxed. Hospitalizations for head injuries following motorcycle crashes skyrocketed 78%, while non-head injury hospital admissions increased 28%. In addition, medical costs for motorcycle accident head injury treatment jumped 132%, compared to an increase of 69% for other types of motorcycle accident injuries.
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Officials with AAA cite a December 2011 study that shows 92% of Tennessee voters support retaining the state’s current motorcycle helmet law. Similar bills to relax helmet laws in the state have failed to pass since the late 1970s, but the latest bill, SB 0548, comes up in subcommittees next week. If the helmet law in Tennessee is relaxed, it will likely have a significant impact on the amount of riders that choose to wear a helmet. According to AAA, in states where helmet laws are repealed, helmet use drops from around 99% to only 50%. Regardless of whether or not the bill actually passes, motorcycle riders in Tennessee are urged to consider the following: studies show that the risk of devastating brain injury in non-helmeted riders is double the risk for helmeted riders. If you have suffered injuries in a TN motorcycle accident, consult our knowledgeable lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates to discuss your legal options.