I have argued this point with various people over the last few years that motorcyle helmets and bicycle helmets save lives and traumatic brain injuries. Only 20 states require motorcyle helmets, New York where I live, being one of them. Two years ago, Pennsylvania stupidly rescinded its helmet law and guess what? Right. Head injuries and deaths have gone up dramatically. Here is a snippet from the June 11, 2008 Reuters HealthDay article based on an article which will appear in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health:
In the two years after Pennsylvania repealed its universal motorcycle helmet law, there was a 32 percent increase in motorcyclist head injury deaths and a 42 percent increase in head injury-related hospitalizations, a University of Pittsburgh study says.
The state's universal helmet law was repealed in 2003. Currently, only riders under age 21 and those with less than two years' experience who haven't taken a safety course are required to wear helmets.
The researchers analyzed data from the state's health and transportation departments for the years 2001-02 and 2004-05 and found helmet use by motorcyclists involved in reported crashes decreased from 82 percent to 58 percent in the two years after the helmet law was repealed.
While the head injury death rate increased by 32 percent, there was no increase in the non-head injury death rate.
Along with the 42 percent increase in head injury-related hospitalizations after the repeal of the helmet law, there was an 87 percent increase in the number of head-injured, hospitalized motorcyclists who required further care at facilities specializing in rehabilitation and long-term care.
Total acute care hospital charges for motorcycle-related head injuries increased 132 percent in the two years after repeal of the law, the study found.
I was talking to a young 16 year old client of mine who is a true libertarian and who advocates for goverment to stay out of people's lives and let people to do as many stupid things as they like such as drink alcohol, drug, have promiscuous sex, ride motorcyles helmet free, etc. His point is that it would be an exercise in social darwinism, that is, the stupid will die young and not reproduce. In a way I think he has a point. It could be that New Yorkers are a little smarter when it comes to public health than Pennsylvanians. Certainly our auto insurance and health insurance companies prosper while Pennsylvanian insurance companies are paying the price of stupidity as well as individuals and their families.