Public pays for unhelmeted motorcyclists

May 15, 2012 at 1:06 AM
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MAYWOOD, Ill., May 15 (UPI) -- Numerous studies have shown the costs to the healthcare system of unhelmeted motorcyclists are astronomical, a U.S. trauma expert says.

"One overview of states with and without helmet use laws estimates that more than $120 million in medical care and rehabilitation expenses per year were due directly to non-helmet use," Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center, said in a statement. "The study authors of that study suggest that legislation mandating motorcycle helmet use should be considered as a viable alternative to raising taxes."

However, nearly $5 billion was absorbed by the non-riding public in the form of increased taxation, higher insurance cost and lost taxes, Esposito said.

Esposito said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found without mandatory legislation, the helmet user rate dropped from 99 percent to 50 percent and non-helmeted motorcyclists were three times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury in a crash than those wearing a helmet.

Michigan was the 31st state to make helmets optional while 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws mandating helmet use for all riders, Esposito said.

"Repealing helmet laws infringes on the general public's right to expect government to control healthcare costs and protect the public's safety," Esposito added.

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