Motorcycle Accidents: Helmets May Prevent Spinal Cord Injuries

When motorcycle accidents occur, helmets play a significant safety role in the prevention of spinal cord injuries caused by fractures of cervical vertebrae.

Motorcycle Helmets Prevent Injuries and Deaths

Millions of Americans ride motorcycles as a means of everyday transportation or simply to enjoy life on the open road. While some motorcycle enthusiasts ride with full protective gear, others ignore important safety measures. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are over-represented each year in traffic fatalities. In 2018, there were 4,985 motorcycle riders killed on U.S. roads and highways.

Motorcyclists are 28 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a crash because they are not protected by a vehicle’s structure. One of the main causes of death is head injuries, commonly seen in motorcyclists riding without helmets. NHTSA reports show that 57% of motorcyclists killed are not wearing helmets at the time of the crash, and riders that do survive a crash often sustain severe injuries to the brain, face, limbs, and cervical spine.

Riding without a helmet doubles the risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury caused by fractures of the cervical vertebrae. Both types of injuries can cause damage that can’t be repaired. TBI can lead to coma or death, and cervical spine injuries can lead to permanent paralysis. Personal injury lawyers see cases where these types of injuries have a significant impact on a person’s ability to work and perform daily tasks. Cervical spine injuries can result in:

  • Partial or permanent paralysis in the arms, legs, and torso
  • Loss of feeling below the level of injury
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Inability or impaired ability to speak
  • Inability to breath without assistance
  • Inability to perform everyday tasks

Experts assert that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is the best protection against brain and spinal cord injuries in a crash. The helmet should be approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for maximum safety ratings. Riders should look for the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet prior to purchase.

NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017, and 749 more lives could have been saved by wearing helmets. Helmets are estimated to be at least 38% effective in preventing fatal injuries, as well as severe injuries to the brain and spinal cord.