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We are blessed in the State of Florida, to have what many consider a very liberal helmet law. As long as you are over the age of 21 and have at least $10,000 worth of medical coverage, it is your choice whether you wear a helmet, while riding your motorcycle. Personally, being a person who is in love with the open road and has dedicated his life to the idea of responsible freedom, I find this a very sensible approach to what can be a very emotional subject.

Still, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. The key to freedom is that you have the option. In this article I am not going to try and sway you in either direction, for or against wearing a helmet, but in the interest of educating my clients and fellow bikers, I would like to present you with the latest numbers to help you make an informed choice.


The IIHSHLDI (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute) is the source that we will be drawing most of our data from. This is an organization, for those unfamiliar with it, that tracks just about everything that happens on U.S. roads that might, in any way, affect the insurance industry. It is their data analysis that is used for everything from justifying new laws to setting your auto insurance rates. In the interest of brevity, from this point forward I will refer to them simply as the IIHS.

Just the Numbers

According to IIHS, in 2013, the last year that all the data has been analyzed for, there were 4381 fatalities involving motorcycles in the United States. Of these, 1678 or 38 percent were not wearing a helmet.

Also of note is that there is a direct correlation between the severity of helmet laws and the per incident fatality rate, with the states having the most restrictive helmet laws having the lowest death rate on both a per accident and per mile ridden bases. This is clear evidence that helmets do save lives. In fact, the IIHS numbers closely mirror the findings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report published in 2004 that found that wearing a helmet improved your chances of surviving a crash by about 37 percent and avoiding a severe brain injury by 67 percent.

I said at the outset of this article that I was not going to try and sway you either for or against wearing a helmet and I sincerely hope that it hasn’t appeared that I was. I, to the best of my ability, let the numbers speak for themselves, without interjecting any personal bias.

The simple truth is that, yes, helmets do save lives and by riding without one, you greatly increase your chances of suffering a head injury or being killed. So, what is the issue with helmet laws?

Almost 250 years ago this country was founded on the principles of personal freedom and responsibility. The choice of wearing a helmet, or not, is but one example of that freedom. Legislation, no matter how well intended, should not be used to infringe on those personal freedoms simply because it helps protect an industry such as the Insurance Industry from loss.

An old adage goes, “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” Nowhere in this simple saying does it state anything about beating yourself in the head.