Report warns rolled back motorcycle helmet laws are costly
Per mile traveled, motorcyclists are much more likely to be injured or die in a traffic crash than those driving cars.
And on top of the harm to the riders, a new report warns of another set of victims: our wallets.
The Government Accountability Office says motorcycle crashes in 2010 cost the nation $16 billion in direct medical costs. That figure doesn't count the hard-to-calculate long term financial effects on both individuals and government.
The only proven way to get these numbers down the report says? Require all riders to wear a helmet.
Pennsylvania State representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) has long been an advocate for motorcycle safety.
"Whether it's in terms of insurance premiums going up for health care, whether it's for uncompensated care that hospitals must provide, whether it's somebody that's going to be disabled for the rest of their life and have to be on public assistance, there are enormous costs," said Frankel.
Since Pennsylvania repealed its full helmet law in 2003, he's been introducing legislation every year to bring it back.
Each time, though, the measure's failed as bikers lobby to keep the status quo.
"They're powerful because their members vote on this single issue and that's a very powerful way to lobby legislators," Frankel said.
The tougher law was repealed under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets saved about fifteen-hundred lives in the most recent year that data was available.
Pennsylvania makes helmets optional at age 21, Delaware does so at 18. New Jersey is one of 18 states that still requires all riders to wear one.