Maryland Motorcycle Helmet Law Debate

Some Maryland motorcycle riders would like the state to relax its mandatory helmet law, which was enacted in 1992 to decrease the rate of Maryland motorcycle crash fatalities. Senator John Astle (D-Annapolis), who is himself a biker, is behind the latest push in the General Assembly to allow exemptions to the helmet law for some cyclists.

Sen. Astle presented a proposal to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis, Maryland, earlier this month which would allow a helmet law exemption for motorcycle riders aged 21 or older who have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years, or who have completed a safety course approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Maryland Fatal Motorcycle Crash Statistics
According to the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program, motorcycle crashes are on the rise, up from 1,749 in 2005 to 1,804 in 2006. This rise in fatal motorcycle accidents in Maryland corresponds with national statistics: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle operator deaths have increased an alarming 138 percent — amounting to 4,155 fatalities in 2006, up from 1,742 deaths in 1997 (NHTSA, “An Analysis of Motorcycle Helmet Use In Fatal Crashes,” Aug. 2008).

Maryland is one of several states with a mandatory helmet law for all motorcycle operators. Bikers who want the law relaxed say helmets encroach on their personal freedom. Those who object to changing the Maryland motorcycle helmet law say not only does it save lives, but it cuts down on the costs and burden incurred by the insurance industry and the health care system when motorcyclists involved in crashes suffer serious injury or death.

The Maryland motorcycle helmet law is challenged every year in the legislature. The argument for maintaining the law may seem obvious to those of us who prefer to drive with four tires on the pavement beneath us: Motorcyclists are at a significant physical disadvantage when involved in a crash with other motor vehicles. An experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer looks at the details surrounding a motorcycle accident to determine who may be at fault and whether there is a compensable case to pursue.

Motorcyclists: ‘Let those who ride, decide’ March 16, 2009
Related Web Resources

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program: Choose Safety for Life

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