I agree with the editorial about reinstating the law requiring helmets for motorcyclists (“Bring Back Helmets,” May 7). Motorcyclists should, by law, be required to wear helmets to prevent injuries and simply save lives. Long-term statistics on motorcycle fatalities are disappointing. Also, the medical costs associated with an unhelmeted motorcyclist are significantly higher than for a helmeted motorcyclist.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 1991, prior to enacting its helmet law, California’s state medical insurance program paid $40 million for the treatment of motorcycle-related head injuries. That figure dropped to $24 million after enactment of a universal helmet law.
As a nurse in a level one-trauma center, I see too many fatal accidents occur because of unhelmeted motorcyclists. Just as automobile drivers are required to wear seatbelts as a safety measure while driving, I strongly feel that this should be a requirement for individuals operating a less protective vehicle such as a motorcycle. We may not be able to eliminate all the risk from motorcycling, but helmet laws greatly reduce the most expensive injuries, such as head injuries.
There are many implications for health care that would be affected by the reinstatement of the motorcyclist helmet law, but one of the biggest is that it would greatly reduce medical costs associated with the care of motorcycle accident victims. This includes costs to the insurance carriers of these individuals as well as costs that hospitals and care providers have to undertake. Also, by enforcing helmet laws, we would reduce long-term hospital stays and lives would be saved with the decline in the severe head traumas that are most common with motorcycle accidents.
With regard to the incidence of severe head traumas that are likely to occur when an unsecured motorcyclist is in an accident, long-term health care implications can be seen as well. When neurologic function is compromised, long-term care and rehabilitation are needed and many times can cost thousands of dollars. This can affect not only the health insurer but also the family of the victim. The requirement to wear a helmet can save not only motorcyclists’ lives but also their families a lifetime of heartache and stress relating to care-giving and monetary issues.
BRANDEE TENNEY, R.N.