Massachusetts is one of only 20 states that require motorcycle riders to wear approved helmets while operating or riding a motorcycle. Massachusetts’ motorcycle helmet laws were implemented for one reason: Motorcycle helmets can save lives during motorcycle accidents.
Not surprisingly, the leading injuries in motorcycle accidents are head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Because a motorcycle does not afford the rider the steel cage protection a car does; there is little to no protection on a motorcycle. Many times, a motorcycle helmet is the only thing between the rider and the road during a motorcycle accident.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Massachusetts motorcycle helmet laws mandate that:
o Every person operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle (including in a sidecar) must wear protective headgear AND
o The headgear must conform with specific minimum standards
o No operator may allow a passenger to ride without protective headgear.
The one exception to this law is that operators and passengers can ride motorcycles without helmets if:
o The motorcyclist is participating in a properly permitted public parade AND
o The parade participant is 18 years of age or older.
Benefits of the Massachusetts Helmet Law
According to statistics from the federal government, in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths on motorcycles per mile traveled than in cars. In 2007, there were more motorcyclists’ deaths from motorcycle accidents than in any previously recorded year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
There are a number of reasons why Massachusetts motorcycle helmet laws are enforced, and why motorcycle riders are vulnerable to accident and injury:
o Motorcycles can attain very high speeds very rapidly
o Motorcycles are unenclosed
o Motorcycles are not stable in high speed braking situations
o Motorcycles are less visible than other vehicles
Helmets have been proven effective in preventing brain injuries (TBI) and studies have shown they reduce the possibility that a crash will be fatal by 37%.
Studies have also shown that when motorcycle helmet laws are enacted, riders wear helmets nearly 100% of the time. According to the NHTSA, when there is no helmet law present, motorcycle helmet use drops to approximately 50%.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
It is important to note however, that not wearing a motorcycle helmet during a Massachusetts motorcycle accident does not mean the other vehicle was not responsible for the crash. It also means that the motorcycle accident victim may still be entitled to financial compensation for their injuries.