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|Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws Reduce Costs to Society
Helmet Laws Reduce Public Payout. Helmet laws significantly reduce the strain on public resources. Unhelmeted riders cost more to treat at the hospital, spend a longer time in rehabilitation, and are more likely to require some form of public assistance to for pay medical bills and rehabilitation. 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.
"It costs nothing to ride without a helmet - as long as there is no crash." It is true that wearing a motorcycle helmet will not prevent a crash. But when a crash happens, the freedom to ride unhelmeted is paid for in different ways, by different sources. The motorcyclist pays and the public pays through taxes, insurance rates, and health care costs.
What is the price? Hospitalization and related medical expenses are higher for unhelmeted riders because of brain injuries. Here's what the data tell us:
So who does pay the price? A large number of studies have focused on this issue and, although the percentages vary, one central point remains clear: whether as taxpayers or insurance customers or medical consumers, we all pay. For example,
"We may not be able to eliminate all the risk from motorcycling, but helmet laws greatly reduce the most expensive injuries-head Injuries. Reducing these costs is good for the consumer and it is good for business, too."
What about insurance? Motorcyclists pay very high insurance premiums, but these premiums don't cover the complete costs of long-term rehabilitation. increased payouts by an insurance company eventually translate into increased insurance rates for the public, so everyone winds up paying. The most recent statistics show that private insurance pays for approximately 66 percent of the costs of inpatient care for motorcycle crash victims. Another 22 percent is paid by public funds and 12 percent is categorized as another source (usually self-payment).37
An unhelmeted rider is more likely to be an uninsured rider. Private insurance cannot help if the rider is not insured. A study of motorcycle crash victims at one hospital found that 46 percent were uninsured.38 Taxpayers could be picking up a large portion of the medical costs for unhelmeted victims.
Insurance companies have the actuarial tables that tell them the high cost of protecting motorcyclists That's why the insurance industry has taken a strong position in fervor of motorcycle helmet laws. The industry recognizes that helmet laws reduce the most expensive injuries related to motorcycling -- head injuries.
Senator John Cullerton
Senator John Cullerton
Life and Economic savings potential. injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes have a huge economic impact. Medical costs, lost productivity, vocational rehabilitation, insurance administration, law enforcement and emergency services, legal services, and workplace distribution (retraining someone to assume duties at work) are among the factors that are impacted by these injuries. Since states with universal helmet laws have obtained nearly 100 percent helmet use rates, a significant increase in helmet use is attainable when these laws are passed. If the states above were to enact helmet laws covering all riders, these laws could prevent hundreds of injuries and deaths and could achieve a significant savings in economic costs.