Victory in Maryland - Motorcycle Helmets Continue to Save Lives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Debra Kubecka
Tuesday, April 13, 2004 (202) 408-1711 x15

VICTORY FOR MARYLAND
MOTORCYCLE HELMETS WILL CONTINUE
TO SAVE LIVES IN MARYLAND

STATEMENT OF JACQUELINE GILLAN, VICE-PRESIDENT OF
ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY

Common sense and safety concerns prevailed as the Maryland Environmental Matters committee chose not to take up Senate Bill 611 in the final hours of the session that would have essentially repealed Maryland's motorcycle helmet law. Since Maryland's helmet law went into effect in 1992, the motorcycle death rate has dropped by 56 percent.

The state's own Fiscal and Policy Note for Senate Bill 611 showed serious economic costs if Maryland's all-rider helmet law were repealed. At a time when Maryland's budget resources are strained and the State's Medicaid program is in crisis, this bill would have resulted in increased deaths and injuries and irresponsible fiscal policy. Maryland's motorcycle helmet law is working well and should not be changed. Helmet use has been found to be one of the most important factors in preventing death and injury among motorcyclists. Furthermore, most motorcyclists who are killed or injured are over age 21, supporting the need for an all-rider helmet law.

Past studies by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) on motorcycle helmet use consistently show that when states irresponsibly repeal these laws, helmet use rates go down, deaths go up and head injuries increase. These results are similar to what occurred in Arkansas and Texas when an all-rider helmet law was repealed.

Head injuries are the most common and the most costly type of injuries to treat. Motorcycle helmets have been shown to be the most effective safety device available to motorcyclists to save lives and reduce serious brain injuries. Non-helmeted patients incur higher hospital charges than those wearing helmets. Furthermore, costs not covered by the insurance of a brain-injured motorcyclist are passed on to the public.

Advocates commends the Maryland Legislature for protecting the motorcycle helmet law. This law will continue to save lives and revenue in Maryland.

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Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America's roads safer. Founded in 1989, Advocates encourages the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that save lives and reduce injuries. Please visit Advocates' web site at www.saferoads.org.

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