motorcycle rider wearing helmetA new study piles on more evidence that motorcyclists best protect themselves when wearing a helmet. It’s well-established fact that wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of death and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a crash, but some have argued the trade-off is a higher risk of cervical spine injury (CSI).

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of a motorist, or as a passenger on a motorcycle, it’s crucial that you contact a personal injury attorney experienced in handling such claims. Once retained, a lawyer will begin working directly with insurance companies on behalf of a client, allowing the injured victim to focus on healing.

In an analysis of 1,061 University of Wisconsin trauma patients, researchers found that in fact, unhelmeted motorcyclists are twice as likely to suffer CSI as those who wear a helmet.1 This gap is even higher than that found in a 2011 study that reviewed 62,840 motorcycle collisions and found helmeted riders were significantly less likely to suffer a cervical spine injury: 3.5% vs. 5.4%.2 In other words, those not wearing helmets were more than half again as likely to incur a CSI, that study found.

The latest findings strengthen the argument for wearing a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of suffering a TBI by 67% and of death by 37%. This study is one more nail in the coffin of the theory that helmets increase the odds of a serious neck injury because the weight of the helmet increases torque during a crash.

Those who make that argument often cite a study by Jonathan Goldstein concluding that helmets did not reduce motorcycle fatalities, and that an increased risk of CSI was equaled by a decreased risk of TBI; in any given crash, a helmet might be a benefit or detriment depending upon the circumstances.3 It’s important to note this 1986 study is more than 30 years old and has been widely criticized for some of its methods.

Bikers take to the road aware there are certain safety risks to riding motorcycles, whether it be the vulnerable nature of the driver compared with being surrounded by a car frame or operating a motor vehicle that’s not as visible to others as an automobile or truck would be. Most think carefully about their safety and take steps to protect it.

For some motorcyclists, the decision whether to wear a helmet may be less about the freedom of the road and the feel of the wind in their hair, and more about conflicting information regarding whether a helmet actually provides more safety.

While neither Wisconsin nor Minnesota has a universal helmet law and most riders can make their own choice in the matter, this latest study and the weight of other scientific research clearly bolster the case for making a helmet part of every rider’s safety gear, every ride.

Our experienced motorcycle accident * attorneys understand that motorcyclists are vulnerable to serious injuries in crashes. We regularly represent riders and focus on your optimum financial outcome. We’ve recovered well over $125 million on behalf of victims, and we are ready to assist you.

Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.

*A note about language:

Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”

1 Page, Paul S., et al. “Motorcycle Helmets and Cervical Spine Injuries: a 5-Year Experience at a Level 1 Trauma Center.” Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. Published online March 6, 2018; DOI: 10.3171/2017.7.SPINE17540.

2 Crompton, Joseph G., et al. “Motorcycle Helmets Associated with Lower Risk of Cervical Spine Injury: Debunking the Myth.” Journal of the American College of Surgeons, vol. 212, no. 3, Mar. 2011, pp. 295–300., doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2010.09.032.

3 Goldstein, J.P. “The Effect of Motorcycle Helmet Use on the Probability of Fatality and the Severity of Head and Neck Injuries: A Latent Variable Framework.” Journal of Safety Research, vol. 18, no. 1, 1987, p. 44., doi:10.1016/0022-4375(87)90065-x.