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January 19th, 2010

Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal Leads to Rise in Deadly Accidents

In 1997, Texas repealed its mandatory motorcycle helmet law which required all riders to wear a helmet.  The law in Texas since that time only requires motorcyclists under 21 to use a helmet.

A recent study of Texas motorcycle riding, published in the Southern Medical Journal, found that in the seven years after Texas changed its helmet law, Texas motorcycle accident deaths rose by 25%.  The Texas Department of Transportation contends that deaths have continued to increase since the study concluded.  From 2004 to 2008, Texas motorcycle accident fatalities rose close to 32%.

The Southern Medical Journal study showed a “sudden upward trend” in deadly motorcycle accidents in September 1997, the same month the helmet laws changed.  Following the law’s implementation, overall motorcycle deaths increased by 30% and deaths per registered motorcycles increased by 15.2%.

According to TXDOT, motorcycle helmet use decreased from 77% in 1996 to 63% in 1997, then to 36% in 1998 and thereafter.

Texas may need to change its motorcycle helmet law, but this study will likely not have any effect on Texas lawmakers.  One interpretation of the data is that motorcyclists not wearing helmets is adversely affecting Texas highway safety.  Another interpretation is that helmets don’t save lives, safe riding does, and the focus on helmets is misplaced.  Some riders claim that the real focus needs to be on increased requirements for training of motorcycle riders in their own safety, and all drivers in how to share the roads with cyclists.

Our Texas motorcycle accident lawyers can assist you with injuries sustained in a Texas motorcycle accident.  Contact the experienced legal team of motorcycle injury lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  We’ll listen to you and help you understand your options.  Contact us today at info@smslegal.com.

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