Motorcycle enthusiasts in the New Orleans area are probably aware that Louisiana is one of several states that have gone back and forth on the issue of whether motorcyclists should be required to wear helmets. Louisiana currently requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets, although efforts to repeal this law are ongoing.
The ability of motorcycle helmets to prevent death or traumatic brain injury arising from a blow to the head has been well established. One argument presented against helmets, however, arises from a 25 year old study that found the weight of a helmet could cause significant torque on the neck during an accident, injuring the spine and potentially leading to paralysis. A study conducted by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, however, indicates that this study is incorrect.
The John Hopkins’ study reviewed information in the National Trauma Databank regarding more than 40,000 motorcycle collisions between 2002 and 2006. It found that, in addition to decreasing the risk of traumatic brain injury by 65% and the risk of death by 37%, wearing a helmet during a motorcycle crash reduced the risk of cervical spine injury by 22%. The researchers attribute the discrepancy between their study and the earlier study to flawed statistical reasoning in the earlier study. They also note that helmet technology has changed significantly in the past 25 years, with helmets becoming both lighter and sturdier.
While issues such as freedom of choice may still be argued by those opposing mandatory helmet laws, it is the opinion of the John Hopkins’ researchers that there is no issue regarding the ability of helmets to reduce the possibility of personal injury. They strongly recommend that all motorcyclists wear helmets.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER. We would be happy to assist you.