Many states mandate helmets for all motorcycle riders, but Rhode Island allows you to ride without one if you are over a certain age. In four states, all motorcyclists are free to ride without helmets, no matter what age you are. The Neuroscience Institute at the University Hospital released a study showing why it is important for states to require helmets for all motorcycle riders.
The study shows that you have the highest risk of suffering a spinal cord injury when you are riding a motorcycle. While helmet use did not show a significant difference in the number of spinal cord injuries, your risk of head injury is dramatically increased without a helmet. Motorcycle riders without helmets sustained head injuries 42 percent of the time while helmeted riders suffered them in only 7 percent of patients. In states where helmets are mandated, use rates sit at 95 percent.
Another factor affected by helmet use was the length and cost of hospital stays. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you are likely to spend an average of four to eight days in the hospital and incur an average cost of $34,535. Riders without helmets had to stay for an average of eight to 11 days and left with bills of $48,594. Head injuries in riders without helmets cost the most, with an average of $61,017 for these patients.
The benefits of wearing a helmet were also evident at the time of discharge. If you were not wearing a helmet at the time of injury, you would likely be discharged to a rehabilitation facility 32 percent of the time, a nursing home in five percent of cases and sent home 45 percent of the time. In contrast, helmeted riders were discharged to home 71 percent of the time and only sent to rehabilitation in 14 percent of cases. While this information is not legal advice, it is intended to illustrate the important of wearing a helmet to prevent head and spine injuries.