Catch us live on BlogTalkRadio every

Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm P.S.T.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

SOUTH CAROLINA: NTSB Asks States to Improve Motorcycle Safety Laws

OFF THE WIRE NTSB Asks States to Improve Motorcycle Safety Laws
On behalf of Pierce, Herns, Sloan & McLeod, LLC posted in Brain Injury on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The National Transportation Safety Board issued its annual Most Wanted list last week, including motorcycle safety for the first time. The agency noted that highway fatalities declined between 1997 and 2008, but motorcycle fatalities more than doubled. Last year, more people died in motorcycle accidents (4,400) than died in pipeline, rail, marine and aviation accidents combined.
Motorcycle deaths are most often the result of a head injury, but helmet laws are inconsistent from state to state. Only 20 states and the District of Columbia have helmet laws that apply to all riders ("universal" helmet laws). Partial laws that require minors, passengers or both to wear helmets are in place in 27 states, including South Carolina. Three states have no helmet laws at all.
It wasn't always this way. Universal helmet laws were in place in almost all states, because they were a condition for federal highway funds. The issue was left up to the states in the mid-1990s after Congress repealed the requirement. Fatalities increased as the states enacted less stringent laws.
The Most Wanted list -- officially, the "Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements" -- is the NTSB's wish list for state legislators. The agency has only the power to influence lawmakers, but it intends to use that "bully pulpit" to the fullest. A recent study has bolstered their argument, too, by showing that the United States is lagging behind other wealthy country in reducing traffic deaths. From 1995 to 2009, the U.S. saw a 19 percent decline in traffic fatalities, but France saw a 52 percent decline and the United Kingdom a 38 percent decline. According to the study, 15 high-income countries reported 50 percent drops in traffic fatality rates.
One NTSB representative challenged lawmakers to put the U.S. at the front of the line, to lead rather than follow the international community in reduction of traffic deaths. "Americans should be striving for zero fatalities on the road," he said. Universal motorcycle helmet laws would reduce injuries and save lives.