In Texas, a total of 418 people were killed in motorcycle accidents during 2018, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Of these deaths, 205 of the victims were not wearing motorcycle helmets, while 201 were wearing helmets. It was not known whether the remaining 12 people were wearing helmets.
On the face of it, this indicates that your chances of being killed in a Texas motorcycle accident whether you wear a helmet or whether you don’t are roughly 50/50, as the total 418 figure is almost evenly split between helmet wearers and folks who didn’t wear a helmet.
But that would be an incorrect assumption. In fact, motorcycle helmets have been proven to decrease the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They decrease the risk of injuries even more, by 69 percent.
In other words, in Texas motorcycle fatality statistics, you’re simply not seeing the times that motorcycle helmets saved lives—because those helmeted people never became fatality statistics.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Texas
So, does Texas require that all motorcyclists wear a helmet? No. Motorcyclists under the age of 21 must wear a helmet. But motorcyclists over 21 who either complete a safety course or are covered by applicable insurance are not required to wear a helmet under state law.
Nonetheless, wearing a helmet is still the wisest course of action for motorcyclists. The fact is, helmets are proven to save lives on motorcycles. They can also cut down the risk of catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or other head and neck injuries. Helmets can reduce the severity of injuries.
A catastrophic injury is defined as one that alters a person’s life forever. That person may become unable to walk, unable to perform the activities of daily living without assistance, or be rendered unable to work at their former employment. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to learning difficulties and difficulties with speech. Spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis. Injuries to the head or neck can be debilitating.
Does wearing a helmet mean you’ll never suffer a catastrophic injury on a motorcycle—or death? No. Helmeted motorcyclists are still injured and killed by crashes. But the statistics are real: helmets reduce your risk.
Motorcycles Pose Risks
The fact is, motorcyclists face challenges on the road whenever they sit astride their cycle. Motorcycle accidents are more dangerous than accidents involving other vehicles like cars and trucks, for several reasons.
- First, nearly every other vehicle on the road is much larger than yours. Cars can weigh from 2,000 to 8,000 pounds. Trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. In a collision with either of these, the unequal weight of the vehicles alone can make the accident much worse for the motorcyclist.
- Second, motorcyclists are relatively unprotected. Even when you’re wearing a helmet, your body is not protected by the cushions and metal that protect car and truck occupants’ bodies. Not only that, but the lack of protection from elements like rainy weather or debris can cause accidents.
- Third, motorcyclists can easily be thrown a long distance in a crash. Collisions are dangerous enough, but the chances of catastrophic injury or death greatly increase when a rider is thrown. Stopping short or even being hit from the rear are only two of the instances that can cause a motorcyclist to be thrown.
- Fourth, elements that would pose no risk to a larger vehicle can cause a motorcycle to crash. We’re talking about potholes, cracks, uneven pavement, debris or dirt being thrown in your face, or gravel. These can cause spinouts and crashes.
- Fifth, car and truck drivers aren’t attentive to the presence of motorcycles in the same way that they are to other cars and trucks. Far too many drivers don’t notice motorcycles. They try to turn even though the motorcyclist has the right of way, merge into a lane the motorcyclist occupies, pull out from a parking place even though a motorcyclist is approaching, and make numerous other mistakes that result from not seeing the motorcyclist.
The net result is tragically clear. Motorcycles are more dangerous to ride than other types of vehicles. The fatality rate for cars per 100,000 registered vehicles is 15.45, according to the Insurance Information Institute. For light trucks, it’s roughly the same, at 15.2. But for motorcycles? The fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles is a whopping 62.46, about 4 times as high.
Dress for Maximum Safety When Riding a Motorcycle
When choosing a motorcycle helmet, look for one that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. It will have a DOT symbol on the back. Make sure the helmet fits your head comfortably and allows for clear vision.
You should also make sure to cover your arms and legs when riding. Doing so will provide at least some protection in a crash. Protective gear also helps prevent dehydration.
You should wear boots or shoes that cover your ankles and gloves that grip well.
Wear brightly colored clothing with reflective material to increase your visibility to other drivers.
What Should I Do If I’m in a Motorcycle Crash in Texas?
If you or a loved one is in a motorcycle crash in Texas that was another driver’s fault, it’s prudent to consult an experienced motorcycle attorney. A driver who causes an accident may be liable for injuries that resulted from the crash.
Texas is a fault state for vehicle accidents. This means that the at-fault driver can be liable for compensation for medical bills (including doctor’s visits, emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, prescription medication, physical therapy, and more). They can also be liable for wages lost from work.
Crash causes aren’t limited to another driver, of course. Defective manufacture, either of the motorcycle or its parts, can also cause a motorcycle accident. If that was the case in your accident, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer(s).
Finally, if you were in a crash caused by road conditions, road design, or failure to maintain stop lights or signage, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the government or other entity responsible for maintaining roads in the area where your accident occurred.
If you have further questions or need assistance, contacting an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer today can help you gain immediate insights into how you can improve your situation.