Posts Tagged ‘motorcycles’

Preventing Brain Injuries During Summer Activities

summer safety

Summer is the quintessential season for heading outdoors, soaking up the sun and fresh air, and getting active. While children are typically more active than adults during the summer season, both children and adults are at risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury while engaging in a summer activity. Here are some tips for preventing a brain injury during your favorite summer activities:

Swimming & Water Sports

 

Summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach or pool and it’s a great way to cool off and relax at the peak of summer, but it’s also a potentially dangerous season for brain and head injuries. According to the most recent data available on brain or head injuries released from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 28,716 head injuries occurred in 2009 during a water sport (diving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, water polo, water skiing, and water tubing. One of the best ways to avoid a head injury while participating in a water sport is to be careful and responsible about diving. Here are some tips to avoid an injury while diving:

 

  • Always enter the water feet first.
  • Never dive into the shallow end of a pool or before checking for objects beneath the water’s surface.
  • Avoid alcohol when you’re participating in any water sport.
  • Know how to avoid and get out of a rip current.

 

Experts also recommend that individuals wear a safety helmet when wakeboarding, kayaking, or when river rafting.

Bicycling, Skating, & Skateboarding

 

According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88%. Both children and adults should wear a helmet when participating in any wheeled sports like bicycling, in-line/roller skating, scootering and skateboarding. Even the most skilled and experienced individuals are at risk for falling and hitting his or her head on or against a hard surface or be struck by a car.

 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists and head/brain injuries were responsible for the majority of deaths. The best way to avoid a serious brain injury while riding a bicycle is to simply wear a bicycle helmet, regardless if you’re just riding around your neighborhood, on a trail free from motorists, or on the roadways. There are no federal laws in the U.S. requiring the use of bicycle helmets, but in 22 states, bicycle helmets are required for most individuals under the age of 16. Law or not, always encourage your child to wear a helmet and be a good (and safe) role model by wearing one yourself.

Motorcycles

 

Just like bicycling, motorcyclists are at risk of suffering head and brain injuries when involved in an accident. Currently, only 19 states require that motorcyclists wear a helmet, but all motorcyclists and their passengers should wear a helmet, law or not. Motorcyclists that wear a helmet have up to a 73% lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders. Additionally, unhelmeted motorcyclists are over three times as likely to suffer a brain injury than those who were a helmet.

 

The Link Between Motorcycle Helmets and Traumatic Brain Injury

Motorcycle accidents are a common cause of traumatic brain injuries. The number of riders suffering traumatic brain injuries has increased as states have repealed universal helmet laws requiring all riders to wear protective headgear. Of course, any motorcyclist can suffer a traumatic brain injury, whether or not they’re wearing a helmet. But riders not wearing helmets are at much greater risk of suffering traumatic brain injuries.

Unfortunately, many drivers of cars and trucks are not alert for oncoming motorcycles. All experienced bikers know this. This puts motorcyclists at a far greater risk of a collision and of suffering brain injury or death in an accident. When you are on a motorcycle, there are no airbags and no safety belts. There is nothing standing between you and the pavement passing beneath your wheels. A helmet is the best protection available.

How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents and Serious Injuries?

A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed the connection between motorcycle helmet use and head injuries based on more than 100,000 motorcyclists involved in crashes in 18 states. Approximately 57 percent of the riders were wearing helmets and 43 percent were not wearing helmets at the time of the motorcycle accident. Unhelmeted riders suffered nearly twice the percentage of head and facial injuries as those wearing helmets, the researchers found.

The researchers noted that 21 percent of the riders not wearing helmets suffered traumatic brain injury compared to 15 percent of those wearing helmets. The severity of the brain injury also correlated with helmet use. Seven percent of bikers not wearing helmets suffered severe traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident, while 4.7 of the riders wearing helmets had a severe TBI.
While some motorcyclists are adamant about their right to choose whether to wear a helmet, there is compelling evidence that helmets improve a rider’s odds of surviving a collision with less severe injuries.

A traumatic brain injury has a profound effect on a cyclist’s ultimate recovery. Hospital charges for those with a TBI were 13 times higher than for those who didn’t suffer such an injury. Further, those with a TBI were far less likely to be discharged home from the hospital. Riders with brain injuries are much more likely to require ongoing medical care and to be transferred to a rehabilitation center or nursing home. Finally, those with such brain injuries are more likely to die. Only diagnosed in 17 percent of hospital-admitted motorcycle accident victims, TBI sufferers accounted for 54 percent of accident fatalities.

Many States Have Partial Helmet Laws, Reducing Compliance

In the 1960s, the federal government encouraged states to enact universal motorcycle helmet laws requiring all riders to wear helmets by making certain kinds of federal aid available only to states that had helmet laws in place. In states that institute universal helmet laws, the rate of motorcycle fatalities and brain injuries typically drops, according to Consumer Reports. When such laws are repealed, the rates climb again.

In 1976, Congress stopped the U.S. Department of Transportation from penalizing states that did not have universal helmet laws, and state lawmakers began weakening or repealing the helmet laws.
Only 19 states in the U.S. have universal helmet laws. Twenty-eight states have partial laws requiring some motorcyclists to wear helmets. Oklahoma, for example, has a partial helmet law, requiring riders age 17 and younger to wear helmets. The NHTSA has found that in states with partial helmet laws, there is a lower compliance rate with the helmet law because of the difficulty police have in determining who is underage.  Less than 40 percent of minors involved in fatal accidents were wearing helmets, the NHTSA said.

As a motorcycle accident lawyer may tell you, if you’re not wearing a helmet, an insurance company will argue that you contributed in part to your own injury even if the accident wasn’t your fault. You may have more difficulty collecting compensation to pay your medical bills.

For some motorcyclists, helmets are uncomfortable or seem a distraction. But when faced with the alternative, it seems to be an easy decision to make.