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Sunday, February 27, 2011

some pro helmet case questions ...

?`s by Big
I am here to discuss the National Transportation Safety Board's opposition

to Legislative Bill (L.B.) 52, a bill that would reduce the safety benefits

that are now provided by Nebraska's universal helmet law.

---------- what is the present fatality rate ? what was the fatality rate

? how does NE fatality rate compare to free states' rates ? ... to nanny

states ? . . .

The NTSB is concerned about the growing number of motorcycle riders that

have been killed or injured in motorcycle crashes.

----------- IS there a "growing" number ? . . .

From 1997 through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide more

than doubled from 2,116 to 5,290.

------------ are there double the number of m'cls on the road ? do the

m'cls that are now being ridden travel the same number of miles ? . . .
Although fatalities among motorcyclists declined in 2009,

-------------- is this part of the "growing " number ? . . .

to 4,462, that is still an average of 12 motorcyclists per day, and an

additional 90,000 were injured. Here in Nebraska, during the same 12-year

period, there were 145 fatalities, an average of 12 deaths per year.

----------- what % of bikers are fatalities ? is that number statistically

significant ? is the increase (or decrease ) in fatalities statistically

significant ? . . .

Based upon experience in other states, the number of motorcyclist fatalities

and injuries can be expected to increase if Nebraska enacts L.B. 52.

------------ which other states is he citing ? are their increases or

decreases significant ? culturally does a mandatory helmet reduce or

increase ridership ? does ridership increase in free states ? . . .

Motorcycles represent only 3 percent of the 257 million vehicles on our

roads, but they account for 13 percent of highways deaths.

----------- what part of these deaths is caused by cars/SUVs ? what part

of these deaths is caused by unsurvivable crashes ? . . .

In 1997, the motorcycle fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles was

55.30. By 2007, the rate per 100,000 registered vehicles was 72.48, an

increase of 31 percent, with the result that the number of fatalities grew

faster than the number of registered motorcycles.

------------- again, did miles ridden increase (to dilute the fatality rate ) ? . . .
Recognizing the safety benefits of motorcycle helmets and the effectiveness

of universal helmet laws in increasing helmet use, ...

--------- not everybody recognizes the same degree of safety benefit as you

. a universal helmet law definitely increases helmet use because few cops

can miss the transgression . . . October 2007, the NTSB recommended that the states lacking a universal

helmet law enact legislation to require all motorcycle riders and passengers

to use a helmet that complies with federal standards.

------------ approximately half of which do not comply with federal

standards . even some cop helmets don't meet fed'l stds . . .

Helmets Are Effective
Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.
----------- it's also a leading cause of death in car/SUV crashes . why

doesn't ntsb recommend universal helmets in cars ?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the

use of a safety helmet that complies with U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety

Standard (FMVSS) 218 is the "single critical factor in the prevention [and]

reduction of head injury." The function of the helmet is to protect the

rider's head, especially the brain, during a fall or crash.

----------- a helmet only works at the time of a crash . what is the ntsb

doing to reduce the number of happenings of crashes - before the crash

occurs ? . . .
A helmet that meets the federal safety standard is designed with a hard

outer shell, an impact-attenuating liner, and a retention system to protect

the structure and contents of the head in a wide variety of

impact scenarios.

--------------- does fmvss 218 OBLIGE helmet designers to use a hard outer

shell ? an impact-attenuating liner ? or a retention system ? . . .

Helmets can be effective in both low- and high-speed crashes...----------- can you supply a cite ? . . .
... because crash speed is not directly related to head impact speed.
------------ do you have a cite for this claim ? . . .

In the only broad study of motorcycle cause factors (frequently referred to

as the Hurt Report), the severity of head impacts was determined by

examining crash-involved helmet damage. This study found that 90 percent of

head impacts were less severe than the single test impact required in

FMVSS 218. Thus, FMVSS 218-compliant helmets are well designed to protect

the head for the vast majority of motorcycle crashes.

-------------- and yet, about 50% of the helmets tested fail the fmvss 218

testing protocol . how does he explain that ? . . .
Experience has demonstrated the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets in

preventing and mitigating head injury.

---------- helmets don't "prevent " crashes . what is ntsb doing to reduce

crashes ? . . .
The independent Cochrane Review of published studies...
----------- how many studies ? . . .
... found in 2003 that helmets reduced the risk of head injury and fatality

in motorcycle crashes,
----------- how do they back up this claim ? . . .
...and found no evidence of an increased risk of any other types of injury.

A 1996 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) report noted that riders not

wearing helmets are three times more likely to suffer brain injury than

those riders wearing helmets.
------------ so three out of four crashed riders were not wearing helmets ?

According to another DOT report published in 2004, helmets are 37 percent

effective in preventing fatalities in motorcycle crashes.
-------------- what arithmetic is used to come up with this number ? is it

statistically significant ? . . .

David Thom, one of the researchers with the Hurt Report, noted that helmets

neither cause nor prevent neck injuries.
-------------- what studies did he do ? . . .

A number of studies confirm Mr. Thom's observations.

-------------- can you cite these studies ? . . .
Similarly, helmets have not been shown to cause problems with vision or


----------- can you cite a source of this claim ? . . .

Helmets Laws Do Increase Helmet Use

By 1976, following passage of the 1966 National Highway Safety Act, which

withheld federal funding from states that had not enacted mandatory helmet

laws, 47 states, including Nebraska, had mandatory helmet laws that applied

to all motorcycle riders.

-------- duh . . .

Each removal of federal funding restrictions was followed by repeals of

universal helmet laws.

---------- more duh . . .

Currently, 20 states, including Nebraska, have universal helmet laws

(requiring all riders to wear a helmet), 27 states have partial laws

(requiring minors and/or passengers to wear such helmets), and 3 states have

no helmet laws.
---------- fighting against the heavy-handed requirements of the federal

gov't is difficult . more than 50% of all states have relaxed helmet

requirements, no ? . . .

Unfortunately, these repeals have amounted to an experiment affirming the

effectiveness of helmet laws and regulations in reducing death and injury.

----------- can you cite how and why you think that is the case ? . . .

A 1986 study concluded that the repeal of helmet use laws was associated

with a 10.4 to 33.3 percent increase in the fatality rate when calculated

per accident.
----------- 10 to 33 % ? that seems to be a pretty wide spread . is it

statistically significant ? . . .
The study also found that between 158 and 420

fewer motorcycle rider fatalities would have occurred in 1984 had the laws

not been repealed.

------------- how does the arithmetic work that substantiates this claim ?

significant ? . . .

More recently, studies of states that have repealed their mandatory helmet

laws within the last 10 years have shown similar patterns.

For example, Arkansas repealed its universal helmet law in 1997, and 18

months after repeal, helmet use dropped by two-thirds (from 97 to 30

percent). Arkansas also experienced more than double the number and rate of

unhelmeted crash scene fatalities, and more than double the hospital

admission rate for unhelmeted crash survivors.
------------- ridership increases ? miles traveled increased ? . . .
Associated with this increase in death and injuries was an increase in the

amount of non-reimbursed charges for initial treatment.

------------ i recall that bikers are insured at the same rate as car/SUV drivers . no ? . . .
After Texas repealed its universal helmet law in 1997, helmet use fell from

97 to 66 percent. More than 80 additional motorcyclists died in the 2 years

following the law's repeal than in the 2 years preceding it.
----------- "additional " ? can you show your arithmetic ? is 40 deaths

per year significant ? what is the significance of using TWO years ? . . .

The number of unhelmeted riders with traumatic brain injuries increased by a

factor of almost 10 in only 4 years, from 55 in 1997 to 511 in 2001, ...
------------- in comparison to what ? . . .
...and the number of unhelmeted riders who were placed in rehabilitation

facilities saw similar increases, from 9 in 1997 to 90 in 2001.

----------- culture changes ? ridership ? . . .

A more recent study published in the January 2010 edition of the Southern

Medical Journal indicates that in the 7 years since Texas repealed its

mandatory motorcycle law in 1997, fatality rates per vehicle miles traveled

increased by roughly 25 percent.

------------- but ridership didn't also increase ? . . .
In Kentucky, helmet usage rates fell from 96 to 65 percent following repeal

of the state's universal helmet law in 1998; fatalities increased from 26 in

the year prior to repeal to 42 in the year following repeal.
-------------- these are very small numbers . are they statistically  significant ? . . .

Accident-involved riders who did not wear helmets in Kentucky were 4 times

more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury and severe head injury. In

addition, hospital charges alone averaged more than $25,000 more for the

unhelmeted than for the helmeted motorcyclist involved in an accident.

----------- how are charges attributed to crash victims ? is there any

kind of arbitrary charge assigned for unresponding victims ? . . .

Louisiana saw its helmet usage rate drop from 100 to 52 percent after it

amended its helmet law in 1999 to remove the universal requirement for

helmet use. The fatality rate increased by more than 25 percent following

the repeal, with unhelmeted accident-involved riders experiencing head

injuries at twice the rate of helmeted riders. Nearly 60 more motorcyclists

died in the 2 years following the law's repeal than in the 2 years preceding

it. In spite of their requirement for unhelmeted riders to carry health

insurance, the insurance coverage for unhelmeted riders involved in

accidents actually decreased by half following the change in the law. In

2004, in response to the rise in deaths and injuries, Louisiana reenacted

the universal helmet law and saw the total number of deaths decline in 2004

and 2005.
------------ ridership didn't similarly fall (as in CA after helmet mandate in '92, by nearly 50%... ) ?. . .

Florida repealed its universal helmet law in 2000. After the repeal, helmet

wear decreased from 100 to 53 percent, motorcycle deaths increased by almost

50 percent, and the number of brain injuries

doubled. An estimated 117 deaths in Florida could have been avoided from

2001 to 2002 if the universal law had remained in place.

----------- can you cite a source for these claims ? . . .

The most recent study examining the results of a helmet law repeal was

completed in 2008 by the University of Pittsburgh. The study looked at

motorcycle injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania for the 2 years

before and after Pennsylvania limited its law to riders with limited

experience and riders and passengers under age 21. In the 2 years after

Pennsylvania changed its law, the number of non-head injury

deaths increased 25 percent, but the number of head injury deaths increased

by 66 percent. Motorcycle-related head injury hospitalizations increased 78

percent compared to 28 percent for non-head injury hospitalizations. The

increase in the number of head injury deaths or hospitalizations outpaced

the increase in the number of motorcycle registrations. Acute care hospital

charges for motor-cycle related head injuries increased 132 percent, and the

number of head-injured hospitalized motorcyclists requiring additional care

at other facilities, such as rehabilitation or long-term care, increased 87

percent, compared with a 16 increase for non-head injured motorcyclists.

The results of this legislative "experiment" on motorcycle riders are the

same in every state where it has been performed.

------------ is this true ? . . .

When universal helmet laws are repealed, helmet usage rates decrease
dramatically, and
motorcycle deaths and injuries increase, even when accounting for the

changes in ridership that may be associated with the repeal of the universal

law. It is likely that hundreds of deaths and thousands of

injuries could have been avoided had the states that recently repealed their

universal helmet laws not done so.

Most states that have repealed universal helmet laws recognize that younger

riders may be unable to make a fully informed decision regarding helmet use.

They have, therefore, required that riders under a certain

age wear helmets. These younger riders are likely to be among the least

experienced riders and are the most likely to engage in risky behaviors,

often with an incomplete understanding of potential consequences.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to ascertain the age of a motorcycle rider

for the purposes of enforcing such a requirement without verifying the

rider's age during a traffic stop. As a result, the young motorcyclist

helmet law becomes unenforceable and helmet usage rates for minors drop

dramatically when universal helmet laws are repealed. Thus, the most

vulnerable and least risk-averse segments of the motorcyclist

population are more likely to be unprotected in the absence of universal

laws. Moreover, motorcyclists under age 21 generally represent less than 10%

of the national fatality total.

A number of motorcycle-related groups, including the National Association of

State Motorcycle Safety Administrators, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation,

and the American Motorcyclist Association, encourage

riders to wear motorcycle helmets, and most do not oppose laws mandating

such use by minors. The National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety (NAMS) report,

which was supported by NHTSA, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and

motorcycle manufacturers such as BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, American

Honda Motor Company, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha, included a recommendation

to increase the use of FMVSS 218-compliant helmets. A national survey

performed in 2006 by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University

noted that, even of those individuals who had previously ridden a motorcycle

without a helmet, 61 percent favored state legislation requiring helmet use.

----------- did the 61% have any expertise in making their recommendation ?
. . .

The NTSB is confident

that there is ample evidence that similar life saving results can be

achieved through motorcycle helmet laws that apply to all riders and


----------- does confidence allow a restriction on a rider's right to dress himself ? . . .

Societal Costs

In addition to family and friends, society as a whole pays the

well-documented excess costs for unhelmeted riders: medical care costs and

the potentially even greater costs from productivity losses of individuals

injured, disabled, or killed.

------------ can you cite your sources for this claim ? . . .

Especially tragic are the fatalities and injuries involving unhelmeted

riders in accidents that would have required only a new helmet and cosmetic

repairs to the motorcycle, had the rider been wearing a protective helmet.

----------- is this an opinion or a claim ? . . .

The costs of motorcycle crashes and the effect of helmets on these costs

were presented at the NTSB's 2006 forum by Dr. Ted Miller, Director of the

Public Services Research Institute at the Pacific Institute for

Research and Evaluation. According to Dr. Miller, in 2005, 110,000

motorcyclists were involved in police reported motorcycle crashes, ...

----------- do all police report in the same way ? . . .

...and the motorcycle crash injuries cost $17.5 billion, including the costs
of  medical treatment, lost work, and quality of life.

---------- who and how made the estimates of lost work and quality of life ?

Although unhelmeted motorcyclists accounted for 36 percent of all motorcycle

crashes, they represented 70 percent of the total cost of those crashes or

$12.2 billion.
------------ is helmet use reported in all states, in all crashes ? . . .

Dr. Miller also estimated the 2005 average cost per crash-involved

motorcyclist as $71,000 for helmeted and $310,000 for unhelmeted


----------- dick floyd (CA's helmet bill author ) estimated a seventy

million dollar savings. but then he admitted that he'd made it up. where

and how did dr miller get his estimate ? . . .

Thus, in a time of tight public budgets, it would not be fiscally prudent to

create a situation that will foreseeably increase the need for resources,

mostly public resources, to care for injured motorcyclists and their

------------- no helmet-free states show a reduction of need ? . . .
It is because of the costs to society and survivors that personal freedoms

must be balanced with the need to protect individuals from preventable

illness, injuries, and fatalities. We are likely to hear passionate debate

today about the personal freedom of motorcycle riders to not wear helmets.

However, the effectiveness of universal helmet laws in preventing death and

disability among motorcyclists operating on public roads, particularly in

light of rising rates and total numbers of individuals killed and injured in

motorcycle crashes across our country, is an argument for the adoption and
maintenance of such laws.


L.B. 52 is not good public safety policy. The NTSB opposes its enactment. We
ask the Committee to table this bill. Experience has shown that when
universal helmet laws are weakened, motorcyclist deaths and
injuries rise. The NTSB does not want to see deaths and injuries rising in
Nebraska as we have seen in every state that has taken a repeal action.
the original is at:

...freedom isn't free: its price is eternal vigilance . . .