There is not a more hotly debated issue in motorcycling than helmet laws. Motorcyclists often argue vehemently that the decision whether or not to wear a helmet is completely a matter of individual choice. On the other hand, state and federal governments consistently argue that safety trumps individual choice. There is, however, a huge third party that this issue impacts – the American taxpayers.
Simply put, uninsured or under insured motorcyclists who suffer serious head injuries in a crash are going to be treated in an emergency room. The dollar amount that is not covered by the rider and his or her insurance must be absorbed by the taxpayers.
So what is the cost to taxpayers? Since we just completed another Daytona Bike Week, let’s first take a look at some Florida statistics. In 2009, taxpayer-supported emergency services and trauma centers had to absorb $190 million in treatment costs from motorcycle crashes that were not covered by insurance. Obviously, not all of that cost was directly related to not wearing helmets; however, head injuries are among the most costly to treat.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that the yearly taxpayer cost for injuries directly attributed to non-helmet wearing motorcyclists is over $900 million. So nation-wide, the annual cost to taxpayers approaches $1 billion.
So here is the question posed to our blog readers: When you include that massive third party, the American taxpayers (of which we are all a part), is wearing a helmet still a matter of individual choice?
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com