In Pennsylvania, motorcyclists 21 or over are not required to wear motorcycle helmets to ride, as of a 2003 repeal of the helmet law. Riders without at least two years of licensed experience or who are under 21 are, however, required to wear motorcycle helmets. While licensed riders over 21 enjoy the freedom of riding without a helmet, this choice can, and does, have lethal consequences.
Since the repeal of the Pennsylvania motorcycle helmet law, not only has the number of riders in the state increased, but so have the number of deaths attributed to riders without motorcycle helmets. According to a study performed by the University of Pittsburgh comparing the rates before and after the repeal, deaths increased by 32% following the repeal. Helmets reduce the risk of fatal head injuries by 37%, the same study posited: that means that one of every three riders could potentially save his or her life by choosing to wear a helmet.
The same study also found that the number of riders hospitalized for head injuries after the repeal increased by 42%, which, coupled with rising health care costs, means not only gambling one’s life, but one’s wallet. Hospital costs for head injuries have always been steep, but with a flood of motorcyclists choosing to ride without protection, those costs only rise and put more strain on hospitals and, by proxy, taxpayers.
So, while Pennsylvania has yet to reinstate a comprehensive helmet law, it is always worthwhile to consider safety when riding— because a helmet costs a lot less than a hospital visit.
Statistics cited from American Journal of Public Health: Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Lives.
And for even more insight into motorcycle law in PA and motorcycle helmets, read Stuart A. Carpey’s newest book, The Good, the Bad, and the Law: A Guide to Motorcycle Accidents in Pennsylvania. You can order it the Carpey Law website for FREE!
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.