The Role of Helmets in Preventing Brain Trauma in Motorcycle Collisions

If you ride a motorcycle in Washington, it is in your best interest to wear a helmet to protect your head, skull, and brain from injury. Traumatic brain injuries are a common cause of motorcyclist death in motorcycle accidents. Wearing protective headgear may save you from life-changing or fatal brain trauma.

What Is the Importance of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?

Motorcycle riders are at a higher risk of suffering serious injuries and dying in accidents than passenger vehicle occupants. Motorcyclists do not have the protection that motor vehicle drivers and passengers do, such as the metal shell of the car, seat belts or airbags. They only have the gear and equipment they are wearing.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021, motorcyclists were about 24 times more likely to die and 4 times more likely to be injured in a motor vehicle crash compared to motor vehicle occupants. One of the most effective ways a motorcyclist can reduce his or her risk of sustaining a serious injury is by wearing a helmet.

Helmets are designed to absorb the impact from the head’s contact with a surface or object to protect the brain from injury, such as a concussion or contusion. All helmets have a protective outer layer that resists abrasion, prevents penetration, and absorbs the initial impact. They also have an inner liner that disperses the force as it absorbs.

Do Motorcycle Helmets Work?

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are a major cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an average of 190 TBI-related deaths per day in 2021. Brain injuries are a common risk in motorcycle accidents, as a rider may be thrown from the vehicle and suffer blunt-force trauma to the head and skull due to an impact with the road surface, the hood of a motor vehicle or another object.

Motorcycle helmets are proven to be highly effective at reducing the risk of serious and deadly brain trauma in a crash. Statistics from the CDC show that helmets saved at least 1,872 lives in 2017 (the latest year data is available). An estimated 749 additional lives would have been saved had all motorcyclists that year worn helmets.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce a rider’s risk of suffering a head injury by 69 percent. It also decreases the risk of dying in a motorcycle accident by about 37 percent for operators and 41 percent for passengers. Technological improvements over the last several years have continued to increase the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets in preventing brain trauma.

Does Washington Require Motorcyclists to Wear Helmets?

Yes, motorcyclists are legally required to wear helmets while riding in Washington. RCW 46.37.530(c) states: “it is unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped on a state highway, county road, or city street unless wearing upon his or her head a motorcycle helmet,” with rare exceptions. The helmet must have a manufacturer’s certification in accordance with 49 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Sec. 571.218 and be securely fastened.

Injured in a Motorcycle Crash in Vancouver? We Can Help

If you or a family member recently sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident in Vancouver, contact a Vancouver motorcycle accident attorney at NW Injury Law Center for a free consultation with an attorney. We can help you fight for the financial compensation to which you may be entitled.

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