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RD- an actual child support client
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01/10/2014
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Florida Helmet Use Law and the Benefits of Protective Headgear in Preventing Injury & Fatality

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Personal Injury

Motorcyclists and their passengers are much more vulnerable to serious injury to the head or brain during a collision than other types of motorists, because they lack the protection that a motor vehicle provides. According to 2012 Traffic Crash Data for Florida, nearly 50% of serious incapacitating motorcycle accident injuries reported involved a driver or passenger that was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

In an effort to prevent serious injury or fatality through the promotion of safety and awareness, the Motorcycle Accident Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. stress the importance of helmet use, for both the drivers and passengers of motorcycles.

It is not uncommon to see motorcyclists riding without a helmet, which has perhaps led to some confusion regarding the laws in Florida requiring helmet use. In general, the law in Florida requires motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 316.211(1):

A person may not operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless the person is properly wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head which complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218 promulgated by the United States Department of Transportation. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall adopt this standard by agency rule.

However, there is an exception to the general rule requiring helmet use for drivers or passengers who meet minimum age and insurance coverage requirements. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 316.211(3)(b), which provides, in part:

A person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

While neither a driver nor passenger is required to carry insurance to operate or ride upon a motorcycle in Florida, uninsured individuals must adhere to state helmet use laws. Nevertheless, despite the option to carry insurance to avoid helmet use laws, this should not be interpreted as an endorsement or recommendation to not wear a helmet. According to Ride Smart Florida, “[s]ince the repeal of the helmet law in 2000, the number of fatal crashes for every 10,000 registered motorcycles increased by 21 percent, suggesting motorcyclists without helmets are more likely to suffer serious and fatal injuries.”

When motorcycle accidents occur, the risk for injury or trauma to the brain or head is significant. Nearly a fifth of all motorcycle injuries, and nearly a third of all motorcycle fatalities involve traumatic brain injury. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that helmets can reduce the risk of serious injury by 15%, and the likelihood of death by nearly 40%. Quite simply, helmets save lives, and as such, all persons traveling via motorcycle should take the time to seriously contemplate the safety benefits helmets offer before rejecting their use.

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