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Why Safety Helmets Should be Mandatory

I really enjoy the work we do at the Dolman Law Group. Whenever I see visiting family I tell them all about the firm, including this blog. Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to talk about it with some out of state visitors. As I told them about the various topics, that we discuss, including What to Do While Waiting for a Tow Truck but what really caught their attention was that Florida law does not require helmets for motorcyclists.

Flabbergasted, they asked me why the legislature would require people in cars to wear safety belts, but wouldn’t require bikers, who are completely exposed, to wear helmets. I explained that Florida is a comparative negligence, which means that people are only required to pay for injuries to the extent that they are atfault. However, I had no answer for the hypocritical nature of Florida’s legislation. Further research on the issue confounds the rational mind further.

In 2000, Florida repealed its mandatory helmet law for persons over the age of 21. This led to a spike in motorcycle fatalities, hospital expenses and insurance costs. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrated that the death rate of motorcyclists from 2001-2002 increased by 25 percent when compared with the two years prior to the repeal. While the national average of also increased, Florida’s increase appears to be greater than that average.

In 2009, Florida passed it’s Primary Seatbelt Law which was touted to save even more lives.[1] Relative to other states, Florida’s fine of $30 is high relative to other states. Between fines and enforcement, Florida didn’t ned the added measures. The state did see an almost 4 percentage point increase in seatbelt use. Not only did the state already have a seatbelt law on the books, but it increased enforcement.

In effect, Florida tells motorcyclists that they may do as they please, but people in safer vehicles need to buckle up and take every precaution. While I respect the people’s right to make their own decisions regarding safety, there is evidence linking the lack of a helmet law to increased costs upon other persons within the state.

No precaution is perfect, but there are many cases where a helmet means the difference between life or death. That’s why I always encourage friends, family and clients to take safety precautions whenever riding their motorcycles. This includes participating in training classes and getting all the necessary experience before getting out on the roadway.