Injuries, Fatalities, and Economic Losses Add Up
About 60 percent of motorcyclists use helmets. The helmets save lives.
Even when riders do wear a helmet, the costs of a motorcycle accident in Colorado are great. In addition to the injuries suffered and lives lost, motorcycle accidents result in billions of dollars of economic losses annually for those injured and others. These costs can increase drastically when motorcycle riders involved in an accident have foregone a helmet.
Costs of Motorcycle Crashes
NHTSA estimates that the annual economic losses resulting from motorcycle deaths and injuries totaled more than 12 billion dollars. Economic costs include medical expenses and loss of income. Comprehensive costs include quality-of-life losses related to injuries. NHTSA estimated that a motorcyclist who suffers relatively minor injuries can suffer about $18,000 in economic costs and about $31,000 in comprehensive costs. When someone is much more seriously injured, economic expenses can soar to more than one million dollars and comprehensive costs to more than five million dollars.
Moreover, these are only the estimated costs for a motorcyclist wearing a helmet. The losses are much greater when victims have neglected to don a helmet before hitting the road. For helmetless riders involved in a motorcycle accident, comprehensive costs for those seriously injured can rise to over $7.5 million.
NHTSA estimates that if all cyclists in Colorado wore a helmet, savings could be as high as $33 million a year in economic costs and more than $206 million a year in comprehensive costs.
Using Helmets Saves Lives
The motorcycle is “the most hazardous form of motor vehicle transportation,” notes the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. In 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists were killed, constituting 14 percent of all traffic fatalities — even though only about three percent of registered vehicles are motorcycles. A motorcyclist is 28 times more likely to die in a crash than those who travel by four-wheeled vehicles.
Wearing a safety helmet lowers the risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, safety helmets reduce deaths by nearly 40 percent and reduce head injuries by nearly 70 percent.
An article in the Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine reports that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Helmets are approximately 29% effective in preventing fatal head/brain injuries and 67% effective in preventing head/brain injuries to motorcyclists involved in traffic crashes. In 2000, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 631 lives in the United States and could have saved an additional 382 lives if unhelmeted riders had worn a helmet.
What are Colorado’s helmet laws?
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia require all riders to wear a helmet. Colorado requires only that anyone younger than 18 wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. Only Illinois and Iowa do not compel any riders to use helmets.
Because states are reluctant to introduce stronger helmet laws, safety officials are seeking other means of reducing injuries, including educational efforts to persuaded motorcyclists to avoid speeding and driving while impaired.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.