Illinois Motorcyclists Not Required To Wear Helmets
Illinois is now one of only two states in the U.S that does not have some form of helmet law applicable to motorcyclists. Twenty states require helmet usage for every person who rides a motorcycle and twenty-seven states require helmets for riders under a certain age— which varies from state to state. Even though there is no helmet law in Illinois for the time being, bills have been brought up repeatedly over the last several years to require helmet use in younger rider in a response to recent statistics that show an increasing number of deaths due to motorcycle accidents.
There is currently a measure working its way through the Illinois legislature that seeks to amend Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-1404 to include helmets as required protective gear for riders 26 years of age and younger. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Mary E. Flowers, was first drafted in January of 2011 and has needed to be resubmitted to the Rules Committee several times, with the last action taken on March 9 of this year. If the bill becomes law, Iowa will become the only remaining state in the U.S to have no law regarding helmet use.
Motorcycle Accidents Statistics: Proof That Helmets Save Lives
In a study that recorded deaths from 1994 until 2010, it has been proven that helmets do save motorcyclists’ lives in the event of a motorcycle accident. In 1994, 97% of deaths due to motorcycle crashes involved a cyclist who was not wearing a helmet. Over the next 15 years, these numbers began to fall only slightly, but advances in medical care have contributed to a decline to 91% in 2009. The numbers in 2010 were skewed by a 15% unknown rate, but 80-85% of the deaths to motorcyclists are estimated to have been related to a lack of helmet use.
Over the period of the study, the overall number of deaths declined steadily. The number of actual accidents increased since 2007, however, and one eighth of the riders who were not wearing helmets sustained injuries to the brain that had lifelong consequences. These injuries carry a total annual cost of $2.3 billion currently— and this number continues to rise.
Manufacturing Standards For Motorcycle Helmets
Because there is no requirement in Illinois for riders to wear helmets, there are no manufacturing standards in the state either. However, all helmets must still meet the requirements set out in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, which dictates the standards each manufacturer is required to meet. For stricter standards, riders may refer to the Snell Foundation standards, which are more stringent than the current federal standard.
Regardless of whether Illinois adopts a helmet law, any rider should consider regular use of a helmet in order to prevent serious injuries to the head in a motorcycle accident. The statistics paint a staggering difference between the survival chances of motorcyclists who wear helmets and those who do not and even if a motorcyclist survives an accident, if he or she didn’t wear a helmet, the chances of life changing injuries to the brain are much greater.
Driver Responsibility To Compensate Illinois Motorcyclists Injured In Accidents– Regardless of Helmet Usage
If a motorcyclist is involved in any accident that is not his or her fault, the at-fault driver will be liable for the cost of hospitalization and recovery, regardless of whether or not a helmet is worn. Therefore, if you have been in an accident, you may still pursue damages for the cost of your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. It is always advisable to wear a helmet in order to reduce the severity of injury, but the use of a helmet has no bearing in any motorcycle injury case.