State Legislature to Debate if Helmets Should Be Required for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists face a huge number of dangers on the roadway, and wearing helmets is one of the few safety measures they can take to reduce their risks during accidents, but Tennessee’s lawmakers may soon make changes to helmet laws that give riders more options.
According to a report by wkrn.com, Tennessee’s current motorcycle laws specify that all drivers and riders of motorcycles must wear crash helmets that meet federal standards and meets requirements of several testing and product safety organizations.
A state representative told reporters that the bill will be up for discussion in a finance committee next week at Legislative Plaza.
Statistics from the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office show that helmets saved the lives of more than 1,600 motorcyclists in 2011, and if all motorcyclists who were involved in accidents that year wore helmets, 700 additional lives would have been saved.
In 2014 alone, there were 278 motorcycle accidents in Davidson County, 134 in Rutherford County, 52 in Williamson County, and 150 in Montgomery County.
How Can Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives?
Unlike drivers and passengers in enclosed vehicles, motorcyclists are completely exposed and are extremely vulnerable during accidents. Even low-speed single-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles can cause riders to suffer significant injuries that may prove fatal if they strike their heads. Wearing an approved helmet helps reduce the risk that motorcyclists will suffer debilitating or fatal head and brain injuries in several ways, including:
- They disperse energy and force created by the accident.
Motorcycle accidents generate huge amounts of force—and a substantial amount of that force may be directed at the heads of drivers and their passengers. When motorcycle accident victims hit their heads and they aren’t wearing helmets, the results are often fatal. Motorcycle helmets help disperse the forces created by the accident away from and around the head, reducing the impact the accident has on the brain.
- They cushion the head and absorb shock.
The hard outer shell of motorcycle helmets is the key to dispersing the forces associated with motorcycle accidents, but the soft inner cushions, liners, and padding responsible for protecting the head and absorbing shock from the impact with pavement or other hard surfaces. During accidents, both the outer and inner parts of the helmet may crack or break to help further spread out the potentially deadly forces, which is why motorcycle helmets should always be discarded if they have been ever been involved in accidents.
- They protect the eyes and face.
Full-face helmets are significantly safer than helmets that just protect the top of the head. During accidents, drivers and riders may fall or be thrown off motorcycles face first, and helmets that aren’t full-faced can leave them exposed. A helmet that fully protects every inch of the head is far more effective than a helmet that protects only three-quarters, one-half, or even less. In addition, modern full-face helmets are breathable and ventilated, making them more comfortable to wear during warm weather.
As the statistics and facts from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office show, there’s no substitute for wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. That’s why it’s always recommended—even in states where it is legal to ride without one—and Tennessee should be no different. In addition to always wearing a helmet, have extras on hand if you ride with passengers, and make sure all of your helmets are the right fit and frequently replaced, as they tend to break down over time and lose their effectiveness.
The Nashville motorcycle accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law know that even the most safety-conscious motorcyclists can suffer serious injuries if they are hit by negligent drivers. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident caused by a careless motorist, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. To find out how we can assist you at this time, dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.