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North Carolina is considering ditching helmet requirements, but in doing so they are not protecting the public

By James - 3/27/2013

North Carolina’s Transportation Committee is introducing a law that would lift the requirement on motorcyclists to wear a helmet.

From News-Record.com

On a voice vote, the House Transportation Committee approved giving adults the choice to ride without a helmet if they have had a motorcycle license or endorsement for a year, completed a motorcycle safety course and have insurance covering $10,000 in medical benefits.

I really don’t care if you want to wear a helmet or not. With all the evidence that helmets prevent death and injury, anyone not wearing one is an idiot. Seeing helmetless riders makes it easy to figure out who the dolts are and avoid them. But America is full of idiots and I do not have the time to fight stupidity. I am fine with people riding without helmets as long as it does not cause me harm.

The North Carolina bill will cause everybody in the state harm as it is written. The requirement of $10,000 in medical insurance is not nearly sufficient to offset medical costs caused by the average traumatic brain injury caused by motorcycle collisions, let alone the more severe injuries sustained by survivors of crashes. An examination of multiple studies (Selected Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics) find that the average traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cost over $100,000 up front and $4 million over a lifetime. About three-quarters of people who experience a TBI cannot return to work and are relegated to disability insurance for the rest of their life. Those unfortunate to die after a TBI cost on average of $450,000 after life saving efforts and hospital stay before passing.

In light of the enormous costs associated with with the real and present danger of brain injury from riding a motorcycle, why is the requirement for medical insurance so low? As I have blogged about in the past, up to 90% of motorists are either uninsured or have the bare minimum. That means that when an unfortunate event happens, and when the insurance maxes out, the hospital is left holding the bag. In turn they increase rates and pass the costs onto everyone who uses the hospital. After being released from the hospital, our fortunate biker will probably have to quit their job and go on disability and Medicare further putting strain on our welfare system and the taxes we pay.

California saw a 37.5% drop in motorcycle fatalities after implementing a helmet law in 1992. Michigan recently saw a 18% increase in fatalities after repealing their helmet mandate. The cost to the public is not trivial and it hurts everyone who uses hospitals or pays taxes. The requirement for insurance to ride without a helmet should be $100,000. As someone who has a $250,000 policy, I can tell you it costs about $250 more than minimum coverage. About the price of a helmet. Again, I don’t care if you are an idiot, I just don’t want to pay for your stupidity.

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