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Will North Carolina repeal its motorcycle helmet laws?

Getting on a motorcycle and riding without a helmet is very dangerous. No matter how much experience or skill a rider has, other drivers on the road can succumb to human error and cause an accident that easily kills or maims a motorcycle rider or passenger.

The North Carolina Senate is pondering a bill already passed by the House that would initiate a study of the ramifications if North Carolina joins the other 31 states that have optional helmet requirements for adults. The impetus behind this effort is a lobby of bikers who want to decide on their own if and when to wear a helmet.

A Michigan State University economics professor with a penchant for studying the unintended consequences of regulations and policies conducted her own study. She and two colleagues published their findings in a 29-page document published three years ago about the effect of “donorcycles” on organ donations in states with repealed helmet laws.

They documented a 10 percent increase in organ donations resulting from accidents occurring in states with voluntary helmet laws. More critically ill patients receiving lifesaving organs could be seen as a silver lining, but it’s arguable whether or not the riders should have been allowed to bike without a helmet in the first place.

Most motorcyclists would prefer such organs don’t come from them, of course, which is why it is so important to wear helmets regardless of state laws. Even if a rider survives a motorcycle accident, they can still be left severely disabled, requiring ongoing care and likely being buried beneath an avalanche of medical bills.

Those injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another person’s negligence have recourse through the civil court system to pursue financial remuneration for their injuries and other damages. However, no amount of money will restore a broken body or severely damaged brain, so all riders should wear their helmets.

Source: Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Economist studies link between helmet-free bikers, organ donors," Bruce Siceloff, June 23, 2014

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