Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Law THOMAS O LYNNGER, M D

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1 Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Law THOMAS O LYNNGER, M D VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY M EDICAL CENTER

2 Outline Legislation in Tennessee Helmet laws in the news Statistics Arguments against helmet laws Repealing universal helmet laws Impact of partial helmet laws Conclusions

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4 Current Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law All riders and passengers must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle Fine up to $161 for not wearing a helmet

5 SB0548/HB0044 by Bell Proposed Changes Authorizes motorcycle operators to ride without wearing a helmet if the operator has: has a minimum of $100,000 liability insurance coverage has a minimum $200,000 medical insurance coverage has successfully completed a Department of Safety-approved motorcycle safety education course has been legally operating a motorcycle for at least two years is at least 21 years of age. Requires the operator to submit proof that all requirements have been met and pay a $50 fee when renewing the registration tags

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8 Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga wears a motorcycle helmet during a Senate Transportation Committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday, March 13, Gardenhire opposed a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R- Riceville, rear, to do away with the state's motorcycle helmet requirement, but the panel advanced the bill to the Senate Finance Committee. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

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10 History TN universal helmet law enacted in 1967 Several attempts to repeal the law in recent years have failed, including this year 2014

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12 Statistics

13 Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Law #6 in the nation for lives saved and economic costs saved due to helmet use

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15 Public s Financial Burden Unhelmeted riders injured in a crash and admitted to hospitals face substantially higher healthcare costs than do helmeted riders. Unhelmeted riders are twice as likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries from crashes. The median hospital charges for riders hospitalized with severe traumatic brain injuries were 13 times higher than the charges for those who did not have a traumatic brain injury. Unhelmeted riders are less likely to have health insurance and are therefore more likely to have their medical expenses paid by government-funded healthcare.

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19 Helmets Save Lives The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved 1,829 motorcyclists lives in 2008, and that 823 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. Helmets are estimated to reduce the risk of death among motorcycle riders by 37% and reduce the risk of brain injury by 69%.

20 Support of Helmet Laws NHTSA s 1998 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey: 80% of people aged 16 or older supported motorcycle helmet laws 47% of motorcycle riders supported helmet laws

21 Common Helmet Questions Do helmet laws interfere with a person s freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet? Yes. Many laws restrict people s freedom to perform behaviors judged contrary to the public good. These include drunk driving laws, cellphone use laws, and infectious disease quarantine laws, to name a few. Courts usually uphold such laws as important to the nation s well-being.

22 Common Helmet Questions If a motorcyclist chooses not to wear a helmet, does it only affect him? No, not if the rider crashes. Unhelmeted riders injured in a crash have substantially higher healthcare costs than helmeted riders. When the rider is insured, these costs are passed on to others in the form of higher health insurance premiums. Unhelmeted riders are more likely to be uninsured than other riders. When the riders are uninsured, their medical expenses may be paid for using taxpayers funds.

23 Common Helmet Questions Are universal helmet laws really that much better than partial helmet laws? Yes. There is strong, substantial, and clear evidence that universal helmet laws save lives and save money. This is not true for partial laws. When a universal helmet law is enacted, helmet use dramatically increases, and states see an across-theboard decrease in deaths. If states repeal the law, they see an increase in deaths.

24 Benefits from Repeal of Helmet Laws? 1. Increased tax revenue from registration fees 2. Increased sales for motorcycle manufacturers and vendors 3. Increased tourism for the hospitality industry However, compare this to the CDC s estimated $94M saved by helmet use per 100,000 registered motorcycles in TN. With over 165,000 motorcycles registered in TN in 2012, it s clear these benefits do not outweigh the costs. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012/mv1.cfm

25 CMT/ABATE Advocates Against Helmet Laws Concerned Motorcyclists of TN/ American Bikers Active towards Education, or CMT/ABATE, is a motorcycle lobbying organization. CMT/ABATE argues for freedom of choice to wear a helmet and is in favor of repealing universal helmet laws. They cite data to show helmets are ineffective in preventing injury and do not reduce medical costs.

26 CMT/ABATE Arguments There is NO discernible difference in motorcycle accident or fatality rates between states with mandatory helmet laws and those which allow for freedom of choice. In fact, states which support voluntary use routinely achieve accident and fatality rates equal to or lower than states with mandatory helmet laws for all riders. (American Motorcycle Association, 1995) They quote a nearly 20-year old statement from the American Motorcycle Association, failing to cite numerous peer-reviewed publications in the last decade showing the effectiveness of helmets in preventing brain injury and death.

27 CMT/ABATE Arguments Helmets are minimally effective in preventing most injuries. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report to Congress, the CODES Study, 1995) They fail to highlight this same report showed helmets are effective in preventing brain injuries specifically. Few would argue that helmets provide protection to the extremities or abdomen, and thus they miss the point entirely. NHTSA strongly supports universal helmet use laws and states Motorcycle helmets provide the best protection from head injury for motorcyclists involved in traffic accidents.

28 CMT/ABATE Arguments Helmet use has no impact on the cost of injury after it has occurred. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report to Congress, the CODES study, 1995) Again, they state their arguments in a way that hides the facts. Once a traumatic brain injury has been sustained, it is true costs are similar. However, they are neglecting to mention the fact that helmets reduce the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury, and by extension, reduce the need to treat those brain injuries.

29 Repealing Universal Helmet Laws

30 Repealing Universal Helmet Laws

31 Repealing Universal Helmet Laws

32 Effects of Partial Helmet Laws Partial helmet laws increase injuries and medical costs, which are largely funded by state tax payers. Florida changed their helmet law from a universal law to a partial law in Hospitalizations due to motorcycle crash injuries increased by over 40%. Medical costs for treating head injuries doubled to $44 million. Deaths of unhelmeted riders under the age of 21 increased by 188% despite the fact that these riders were mandated to wear a helmet.

33 Partial Laws: Why They Don't Work Research shows that partial helmet laws do not motivate riders to wear helmets. States with partial laws and states with no helmet law experience little difference in helmet use. Even though all partial helmet laws apply to minors, 60% of fatally injured minors were unhelmeted in partial helmet law states, compared to 22% in universal helmet law states from Among young riders who were hospitalized after a crash, the risk of suffering a serious traumatic brain injury was 37% higher in partial law states compared to universal law states.

34 Partial Laws: Why They Don't Work Only the universal helmet law is proven to increase helmet use. Compliance is low because partial helmet laws are difficult to enforce. Identifying partial law violations is problematic. As a result, partial helmet laws are typically only enforced when a police officer has pulled a rider over for another infraction, such as speeding.

35 Tennessee Trauma Care Advisory Council Position Statement Operating motorized vehicles remains a privilege and not a right on public roads, paid for by taxpayers. Emergency medical services, from first responders through resuscitation and rehabilitation are funded and regulated by the State and Federal government, again paid for by tax revenues. Lost wages and employment opportunities are also borne by taxpayers, as disability, unemployment payments, lost revenue from decreased tax collected all impact the remaining state citizens as these too are funded by tax dollars.

36 Conclusions Helmet use reduces brain injuries Helmet use reduces fatalities Helmet use reduces costs Helmet use is highest with universal helmet laws Helmet use is a no-brainer

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