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Motorcyclists face TBI risks, but helmets help

The sun is shining, and people are getting their motorcycles out of storage for the summer. While getting on your bike and hitting the open road is a great way to enjoy the weather, motorcycling can be dangerous. On average, 150 people die in New York motorcycle accidents each year and there are over 1,500 injuries.

Injuries sustained during motorcycle crashes can be severe, and some of the worst include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). But luckily, study after study has shown that you can decrease the likelihood of suffering a TBI by wearing a helmet.

What is a TBI?

A TBI is the result of a “violent blow or jolt to the head or body,” according to the Mayo Clinic. A mild TBI only affects brain cells temporarily, but a severe TBI can result in bruising, bleeding, torn tissue and other long-term damage to the brain.

The side effects of a mild TBI include loss of consciousness, persistent headaches, fatigue, dizziness and other cognitive issues. A severe TBI can cause seizures, severe cognitive disabilities, loss of coordination, long-term comas and even brain death.

Role of helmets

TBIs and other head injuries are the most common injuries in a motorcycle crashes.

A review of dozens of motorcycle-helmet safety studies, a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Centers for Disease Control research found that riders wearing helmets fared much better in crashes:

  • Helmeted riders have a 73 percent lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders
  • Critical, serious and severe injuries are reduced by 85 percent with helmet use
  • Helmets are 67 percent effective in reducing TBIs
  • Helmets saved 1,859 motorcyclists’ lives in 2016
  • Universal helmet use could save the U.S. $1 billion per year in economic costs

New York helmet laws

State law in New York requires that all motorcyclists and their passengers wear helmets and protective eyewear. Helmets and eye protection are also a requirement for all riders of mopeds capable of traveling faster than 20 mph. Helmets must meet U.S. Department of Transportation requirements.