Depending on when you grew up, your parents may have required you to wear a helmet whenever you road your bike or skateboard. The same rules should apply to motorcycles – and they do, since 1967. Back then, the federal government required every state to enact motorcycle helmet laws. If they did not, the state would not qualify for certain federal funds for highway safety. Motorcycle helmet laws in Arkansas and Missouri are pretty standard, but it is still good to be familiar with the ins and outs of these laws before traveling through the state on your Harley.
First, why are helmet laws even necessary?
Nearly half the states in our country require helmets to be worn by all motorcyclists. Most of the remaining states, at least require helmets for certain categories of people. Only Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire do not have a motorcycle helmet law. The federal government still urges each state to adopt a universal law, and to enforce that law.
But, why is this so important? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,381 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2013. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2013. That is more than twice the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.
The motorcycle helmet law in Missouri
Missouri is one of the states that has a limited motorcycle helmet law. Missouri’s law requires any motorcyclist under the age of 21 to wear a helmet while traveling on the roadways. The fine for failing to wear a helmet in Missouri is no more than $25 per offense.
There are divided opinions regarding the need for mandatory helmet laws in Missouri. Those who oppose a mandatory helmet law believe that adults should be free to decide whether to wear a helmet. Proponents of mandatory helmet laws say that the law, not only protects motorcyclists during accidents, but also save the state money in medical expenses.
The motorcycle helmet law in Arkansas
Arkansas also requires motorcycle operators and passengers under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. Three-wheel motorcycles equipped with a cab and a windshield, and do not exceed twenty horsepower (20 hp), are excluded from the requirement. Many municipal police departments use these types of vehicles. All motorcyclists and passengers in Arkansas must wear protective glasses, goggles or face shields, regardless of age.
Do helmets really provide adequate protection and prevent death?
Statistics show that, every year, more than 2,200 individuals die in motorcycle accidents and more than 55,000 more are injured. A helmet is a motorcyclists most effective piece of safety equipment. While helmets will not prevent crashes, they can reduce the number of deaths and disabling injuries that occur as a result of motorcycle collisions.
Statistically, the benefit of wearing a helmet is overwhelming. According to one report, a motorcyclist is 16 times more likely to die in a crash than the driver of an automobile. However, wearing a helmet reduces that risk by nearly 30%. Another fact to consider is that head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
The University of Southern California conducted a study of 900 motorcycle accidents. The results showed that wearing a helmet was the single most critical factor in reducing, or even preventing, head and neck injuries in motorcycle operators and passengers. As one person put it,
Why not use common sense? If someone was going to hit you on the head with a baseball bat, would you rather have a helmet on your head or not? The answer is obvious, and the answer is the same for falling off your motorcycle and hitting your head on the ground.
If you have questions regarding automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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