A Point of Pride or Contention? A Look At Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Illinois
Currently, Illinois is one of the few remaining states that has yet to implement a motorcycle helmet law. For years, the lack of an Illinois motorcycle helmet law has been a point of contention amongst liberty-minded folks and motorcycle safety advocacy organizations in the state.
A recent Fox News article tracked the changes and developments of motorcycle helmet laws in the Midwest. Michigan is an example of one state that has abolished motorcycle helmet laws, and that has seen a drastic increase in health-care costs associated with injured riders as a result. For over 40 years, Michigan required that riders wear a helmet. Before the law was amended, the average claim for an injured biker was about $5,410. After the amended law went into force, the average claim for injured riders rose to about $7,257. It is clear that insurance companies stand to benefit from the lack of motorcycle helmet injury laws in states like Michigan and Illinois.
Illinois’ History of Motorcycle Helmet Laws
At one point, the Illinois legislature adopted a motorcycle helmet law. This type of law was adopted in 1968. The law was later overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court as an “unconstitutional abuse of police power” in the case of People v. Fries. The issue was again raised in 2009 with the Illinois Senate. Motorcyclists would have been required to wear helmets with chain straps under this law, but the law was ultimately rejected and did not pass. Today, Illinois continues to remain without a motorcycle helmet law in force.
Benefits of Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Research studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that motorcycle helmet laws have a powerful impact on prevention of injures for riders on the road. The CDC has found that states with helmet laws have a usage rate that is almost at 100 percent. Motorcycle drivers are at a decreased risk of suffering from head injuries when they use helmets.
The CDC has found that states with motorcycle helmet laws have a tendency to enjoy greater healthcare savings as a result of these laws. California was able to save over $394 million in healthcare costs due to its universal motorcycle helmet law that applies to all riders on the road. New Mexico has a partial motorcycle helmet law, and it enjoyed a savings of just $2.6 million in healthcare costs. States that have universal motorcycle helmet laws also have a much lower rate for the deaths of drivers involved in accidents. Only 12 percent of motorcycle operators who died in crashes were not wearing helmet at the time of the accident in states with these laws. In states that do not have universal helmet laws, over 64 percent of drivers involved in crashes died.
There are 19 states that currently have a universal helmet law. This means that all motorcycle drivers on the road must wear a helmet regardless of their age.
“Liberty” Arguments Against Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Illinois
The states that do not currently have motorcycle helmet laws include Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire. The riders in these states who do not want these laws are often liberty-minded and argue that it should be a free choice to wear a helmet or refrain from wearing one. These riders advocate for “freedom from helmet laws.”
Those who are on the opposite side of the debate cite the increased healthcare costs, increased fatality rates and increased injury rates as the need for helmet laws. Advocates for highway safety believe that motorcycle helmet laws contribute to reduced fatality rates on the roads and also help prevent serious head injuries in victims involved in motorcycle accidents.
Speak with Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you were injured as a result of involvement in a motorcycle accident, then you may be eligible to receive damages in your case. Even if you were not wearing a helmet, this does not preclude you from being able to receive damages. An experienced Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer is ready to take a look at your case and help you understand the legal remedies available to you. The lack of an Illinois motorcycle helmet law may actually work in your favor within your case and ensure that you have the right to receive damages. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.
- Look at our motorcycle infographic on motorcycle helmet usage here