motorcycle helmet

Recently 19 states and the District of Columbia all have laws requiring that motorcyclists wear helmets, while laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states and there are no motorcycle helmet use laws in three states.

Many argue that helmets save lives and heads, but others contend that helmets can significantly impair hearing and vision and mandating their use infringes on personal freedom.

Regardless of whether they’re wearing helmets, motorcyclists involved in accidents already are more than 30 times more likely to die and five times more likely to be injured than their counterparts in closed vehicles.

Now a new study in the June 2017 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery shows that skull fractures and other head and facial injuries from motorcycle trauma in Michigan have doubled since that state relaxed its motorcycle helmet laws in 2012 in favor of of a partial law. Under the new law, riders are eligible to ride without helmets if they meet criteria for age (older than 21), training/experience and insurance coverage.

The proportion of motorcycle trauma patients who were riding without helmets more than doubled, from 20 to 44 percent after the laws were relaxed. Compared to helmeted patients, those not wearing helmets were about twice as likely to sustain craniomaxillofacial (CMF) injuries. In fact, the absolute rate of CMF injuries increased from 25.5 percent under the universal helmet law to 37.2 percent under the partial helmet law. This equals a 46 percent increase in overall CMF injuries, including a 28 percent increase in fractures and a 56 percent increase in soft tissue injuries.

Advice from Dr. Rizk:

Consider this blog post a public service announcement from a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has seen far too many facial injuries resulting from motorcyclists not wearing a helmet. This is reckless, careless behavior that can dramatically increase risk of sustaining a life-threatening injury. The study authors estimate that wearing a motorcycle helmet can decrease the risk of facial trauma by half, while requiring all riders to wear helmets could decrease facial injuries by more than 30 percent! The numbers don’t lie. Please wear a helmet and exercise caution while riding a motorcycle. As a facial plastic surgeon, I would much rather see you for rejuvenation procedures that help you feel better about yourself than to correct facial injuries resulting from easily preventable behavior.