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Should Florida reinstate a universal helmet law for motorcyclists?

Since Florida repealed its universal helmet law, the number of motorcyclists killed in the state has increased.

While many motorcyclists enjoy feeling the wind in their hair while on the road in Florida, choosing not to wear a helmet can be a life-changing decision. The chance of a motorcyclist suffering a serious head injury or being killed increases substantially when a helmet is not worn. In Florida, adult motorcyclists have not been required to wear a helmet when on the road since July 2000. Prior to that date, Florida had a universal helmet law, requiring all motorcyclists in the state to wear a helmet.

Florida's partial helmet law now requires only motorcyclists under the age of 21 and those without insurance coverage of at least $10,000 to wear a helmet when riding. All other adults are allowed to choose whether they wear a helmet.

According to a study of fatal motorcycle collisions in Florida - both before and after the repeal of the universal helmet law - the number of motorcyclist fatalities increased significantly when the universal law was repealed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following the implementation of the partial helmet law, the number of motorcyclists killed in Florida increased by 55 percent. In addition, the number of motorcyclists who required hospital care following a collision increased by over 40 percent.

Across the country, Florida ranks 18th in terms of the number of motorcyclist lives saved by helmet use. In 2010, 19 lives were saved for every 100,000 registered motorcycles in the state. In comparison, in states with universal helmet laws, approximately 36 lives are saved for every 100,000 registered motorcycles.

Florida motorcyclists: Be safe on the road
While many motorcyclists in Florida are not required to wear a helmet, choosing to do so can save a life. According to the CDC, the chance of a motorcyclist dying in a collision falls by 37 percent when he or she is wearing a helmet. In addition, the risk of a motorcyclist suffering a serious head injury falls by 69 percent if he or she is wearing a helmet.

In addition to helmet use, motorcyclists can take other precautions on the road in Florida. For instance, always check your motorcycle before you get on the road - make sure the air pressure in your tires is good and that your lights are working properly.

Also, consider what you wear when on your bike. Wearing protective fabrics - such as leather - can reduce the severity of the injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash. Also, wearing clothing with reflective panels will ensure other motorists can spot you easily on the road.

The driver responsible for a serious motorcycle accident should be held accountable for the injuries suffered by the parties involved. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident in Florida, consult with a skilled personal injury attorney, who will work on your behalf to obtain the compensation to which you may be entitled.