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Motorcycle helmets are important, but not a safety guarantee

Just about anyone who rides a motorcycle in California understands that helmets are necessary both to legally ride and for safety. Motorcycling can be a relatively safe activity when bikers ride responsibly and wear the proper gear, and when other drivers are aware of their presence. Regardless of experience, motorcyclists should never disregard the importance of a good helmet.

In fact, claims the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a helmet is the most vital piece of protective equipment a biker can wear. A properly fitted, federally approved motorcycle helmet provides significant protection from traumatic brain injuries, facial injuries and eye damage in a collision. Many bikers believe helmets impede their riding experience – that they block their vision and impair their hearing, and may result in neck injuries in a crash. However, studies have debunked those claims.

In 2016, 548 people lost their lives in motorcycle accidents in California, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Out of these, 511 were wearing helmets. If helmets are so important, then why were the majority of bikers killed in accidents wearing helmets? There are numerous injuries common with motorcycle accidents that helmets cannot protect against. A biker can suffer serious abdominal injuries from being struck by a car or thrown from a motorcycle. Severe spinal or neck fractures can be fatal. A motorcyclist might be run over by a large truck with force that no helmet could withstand. Despite the high numbers of motorcycle fatalities in California, the NHTSA states that 308 motorcyclists’ lives in 2016 were saved by helmet use.

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