Motorcycle fatalities, injuries up since helmet law weakened
Texans love to ride motorcycles. In many ways, our state seems ready-made for getting out on a motorcycle: wide expanses of open roads, scenic highways and warm weather make Texas a haven for motorcyclists. Unfortunately, conditions that lead to many people riding motorcycles can also increase the frequency of motorcycle accidents.
Many accidents and deaths from traffic accidents have decreased in recent years; however, motorcycle accident deaths have been on a gradual decline. Overall, deaths from motorcycle crashes have doubled in the last two decades. In Texas, fatalities are roughly 50 percent higher than they were in 2004.
At least some of this is due to the lack of comprehensive helmet laws in several states, including Texas. Many states have gone back and forth between strict helmet laws and a more relaxed position; in our state, the law changed in 1997 to exempt many riders from the helmet requirement.
The problem of fatal accidents is an expensive one. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the country saved about $3 billion in medical costs thanks to people wearing helmets; if everyone in an accident had worn a helmet, that figure would have jumped to nearly $4.5 billion.
Not every motorcycle crash is the fault of the rider; in many cases, inattentive drivers of motor vehicles don't see motorcycles and cause accidents. It's for these sorts of unexpected reasons that riders are often better off wearing helmets -- even the most careful of riders can't predict what all vehicles on the road might do.
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Number of motorcycle deaths should lead to more helmet laws," Bob Ray Sanders, Aug. 7, 2013