In Tuesday’s article, “More deaths follow helmet laws’ repeal,” The Herald reported an 81 percent increase in rider deaths, following the repeal of Florida’s helmet law. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminiatration reports that “Deaths increased by 24 percent above what was expected from the increase in motorcycle registrations,” and “Other factors that may have contributed to the fatality increase are alcohol use, speed, increased exposure, and the likely contribution of a change in motorcycle ridership.”
I believe helmets are helpful, and should be used always, but the data indicate there is more to the increase in motorcycle deaths than helmet use.
A legal crackdown on all motorcyclists is not justified, but an aggressive safety campaign might help.
As The Herald seems to have an interest in motorcyclists lately, and there have been some recent truly saddening accidents, perhaps you could do more to help promote safety. I suggest:
To drivers: Promote lookout for motorcycles. Drivers not looking kill a high number of motorcyclists and bicyclists. Put yourself in their shoes when you approach an intersection.
To riders: Promote learning safe riding techniques. There are courses available, some of which are sponsored by the state. By the way, if you think most motorcyclists aren’t already getting the message, just try to find a class than is not totally full. “Hello Olympia – more classes needed perhaps?”
I suggest that these courses should be mandatory for young inexperienced motorcyclists, and be funded fully by the state. I say this because the payoff could be a reduction the tens of millions of dollars it costs to treat injured motorcyclists, saving lives and dollars in the long run.