A 55-year-old Kissimmee man died Sunday afternoon when he lost control of the motorcycle he was driving. The St. Petersburg Times reports the accident happened just west of Brooksville near B.W. Stevenson Road. According to the Florida High Patrol, the man was traveling east on Cortez Boulevard. He lost control of his 2000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a curve, hitting a concrete median and a reflective pole before the bike left the highway. The man was thrown from the motorcycle. Hernando County Fire Rescue pronounced him dead at the scene. The FHP said the man was not wearing a helmet. It’s unknown whether alcohol was a factor in the accident.
Our condolences for the loss of this man go out to his family and friends.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to Florida Highway Patrol statistics from 2008, there were 9,618 motorcycle crashes that year. 17.8% of all traffic fatalities affected motorcycle drivers and their passengers. While the number of these fatalities was down from 2007 by 3.3%, 532 motorcyclists and passengers were killed in 2008. 45% of those victims were not wearing helmets.
Helmets Save Lives
In July, 2000, the State of Florida passed a law exempting adult motorcyclists (21 and older) from wearing helmets as long as they had medical insurance in the amount of $10,000. According to a study published in 2004 in the American Journal of Public Health, motorcycle occupant fatalities increased by more than 20% the year after the law was changed. Study author, Andreas Muller, PhD, concludes that “exempting adult motorcycle riders from wearing motorcycle helmets is counterproductive for motorcyclists’ health and unnecessarily increases insurance and medical care expenses.”
We All Pay the Cost
Aside from the cost of lives lost, medical expenses incurred by those who do not wear helmets put a burden on all of us. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the cost of treating brain injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents nearly doubles in states without universal helmet laws from $2.3 million to $4 million dollars. The NHTSA also notes that a number of studies indicate that “unhelmeted riders involved in crashes are less likely to have insurance and more likely to have high hospital costs.”
Because treatment of brain injury is so expensive and because so many victims of brain injury caused by motorcycle accidents have only the required $10,000 coverage or none at all, we all pay the cost of their care through increased insurance premiums and medical care costs.
Finally, while Florida law requires motorcyclists under the age of 21 to wear helmets, studies show 40% of these motorcycle riders do not follow the law. The NHTSA also notes that helmet laws governing minors are extremely difficult to enforce.
The list of organizations that have to deal with the costly impact of no-helmet laws is long, yet states like Florida continue to water down laws clearly designed to not only save lives but to bring down the cost of health care. The best Florida personal injury attorney will always offer a free and comprehensive initial consultation to injured victims and their families.
Source reports: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/motorcyclist-killed-in-crash-west-of-brooksville/1067831; http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/new-fact-sheet03/motorcyclehelmet.pdf