Do motorcycle helmets really save lives?

Local News

There are now several states where helmets are optional.

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Thursday in every newscast, News 5 is raising awareness about motorcycle safety, and dangers.

There are now several states where helmets are optional. University Hospital Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Linda Ding, has seen first-hand that helmets can save lives, but she says it all depends on speed.

She said, “Down here, because the weather is so nice, people are out on their motorcycles year round, which becomes a major problem because that adds that many months of the year where they can get seriously injured.”

And you don’t even have to be moving at a high rate of speed.

“I’ve had patients who pull out of their driveway, not going at any speed, and somehow crash their bike, lay down their bike and break their leg just from a minor low-velocity injury,” Dr. Ding told News 5.

And injuries can vary, from road rash to broken bones, to paralysis, organ damage, and traumatic brain injuries, and in some cases, death.

Dr. Ding said, “Alabama, fortunately we have a helmet law. Just because you wear a helmet, it doesn’t mean you’re going to survive the injury. About more than half of patients who die from a motorcycle accident were wearing a helmet.”

But it could.

“I think in low-velocity injuries where you may not have a lot of other bodily harm, or if you’re thrown from your bike certainly the impact on your head without a helmet is going to be a lot worse than with a helmet,” Dr. Ding told Cherish Lombard.

She says she doesn’t want you to think a helmet makes you invincible on a motorcycle.

“Certainly wearing a helmet is better than no helmet, but I don’t want people to get the false sense that just because you have a helmet you’re going to be protected because the rest of your body, you’re not wearing body armor and you’re going at highway speeds and so if you encounter an accident or veer off the road you can still die from those injuries,” said Dr. Ding.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets saved more than 1,800 lives in 2016. Experts say if all motorcyclists had worn helmets in 2016, 802 more could have been saved.

Dr. Ding encourages all drivers to be more aware of all the vehicles on the road, especially motorcycles, because she says they’re small, they’re fast, and they can really come out of anywhere. She adds that for anyone thinking about getting a motorcycle, she hopes you’ll think about your family, and think twice about getting on that motorcycle.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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