Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have completed a study that links the use of motorcycle helmets to a reduced chance of spinal injury in an accident.
Utilizing data gathered from 40,588 accidents, researchers can cite a 22% reduction of cervical spine injury for helmeted riders compared to those not wearing helmets. This study contradicts beliefs by anti-helmet lobbyists that the extra weight of the helmet can increase damage to the spine. The study used data from the National Trauma Databank.
Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., Johns Hopkins assistant professor of surgery and the study leader says: "We are debunking a popular myth that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can be detrimental during a motorcycle crash. Using this new evidence, legislators should revisit the need for mandatory helmet laws. There is no doubt that helmets save lives and reduce head injury. And now we know they are also associated with a decreased risk of cervical spine injury."
Along with showing a reduced risk of cervical spine injury, the study also confirms other safety benefits of wearing a helmet such as a 65% reduction in traumatic brain injury and a 37% decrease in death.
The study was published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons, with the conclusion stating: "Helmeted motorcyclists are less likely to suffer a cervical spine injury after a motorcycle collision. This finding challenges a long-standing objection to mandatory helmet use that claims helmets are associated with cervical spine injury. Re-enactment of the universal helmet law should be considered in states where it has been repealed."
Over the past decade many states have repealed universal helmet laws; only 20 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require mandatory helmet usage for all riders. Those remaining states either have no law or only require helmets under various age restrictions.
This report coincides with renewed efforts on both sides of the helmet law. Some states, such as Oregon, are currently considering repealing the universal helmet law. The city of Myrtle Beach, SC had its mandatory helmet law struck down by the South Carolina Supreme Court, which deemed the city ordinance unable to supercede state laws. Nationally, the National Transportation Safety Board placed this measure on its "Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements" for November 2010.
Helmet use makes motorcycle riding safer. It reduces the risk of cervical spine injury, reduces traumatic brain injuries, and greatly reduces the chance of death.
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