North Carolina weighs pros and cons of motorcycle helmet law

Lawmakers in North Carolina are currently considering legislation that would repeal the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet law, making helmet use optional for most adult motorcyclists. Under existing North Carolina law, people of all ages and experience levels are required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.

If the proposal becomes law, adult motorcyclists in North Carolina would have the option of riding without a helmet if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The rider is age 21 or older
  • The rider has had a motorcycle license or endorsement for at least one year
  • The rider has completed a motorcycle safety course
  • The rider has insurance coverage for at least $10,000 in medical benefits

Views differ on mandatory helmet use

Many North Carolina motorcycle enthusiasts support the legislation, saying that adult riders should be able to choose for themselves whether to wear a helmet. Some also contend that safety training for motorcyclists and vehicle drivers is a more important factor than helmet use when it comes to saving lives, the Insurance Journal reported.

Opponents of the change argue that repealing the mandatory helmet law will contribute to more serious motorcycle injuries and higher medical costs. They also say the new law would be harder to enforce than the current law, since police will not necessarily be able to visually determine whether a helmetless rider is breaking the law.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmet use reduces the risk of death from motorcycle accidents by more than one-third. Currently, North Carolina and 18 other states have mandatory helmet laws for all motorcycle riders. Other states have partial helmet laws similar to the one pending in North Carolina, while still others have no helmet laws at all.

Helmets may reduce brain injury risks

One of the biggest concerns cited by opponents of the reform is the risk of traumatic brain injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, takes place when normal brain functioning is disrupted by a blow to the head. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of TBI for all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even a non-fatal TBI can have devastating, life-long consequences for an injured individual and his or her loved ones. Nearly half of all people hospitalized for TBI are still suffering from a related disability one year after their injuries, according to CDC data. Symptoms of TBI can be temporary or permanent, and often include cognitive impairment, loss of sensation and motor control, and emotional or personality changes.

Compensation for North Carolina crash victims

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI or other injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident in North Carolina, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost income and other financial losses resulting from the injury. For more information, discuss your situation with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer near you.