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Can the Motorcycle Helmet Law Make a Return to Pennsylvania?

In 2003, Pennsylvania abandoned its universal motorcycle helmet law, allowing riders over the age of 21 with two years experience or safety training to make the decision about wearing a helmet. But according to an article on NewsWorks.org, motorcycle accident deaths and head injuries have gone up. They noted that in 2008 there was a 32 percent increase in head injury deaths and a 42 percent increase in head injury-related hospitalizations. They also reported that there were 4016 motorcycles crashes in Pennsylvania in 2010 with 233 fatalities.

Democrat Dan Frankel is backing legislation that would mandate all riders to where helmets. There can be an enormous cost for care when someone suffers a head injury. Frankel feels that taxpayers end up paying the hospital bills for many riders who either don’t have health insurance or long-term care insurance. Dr. Guy Fried of Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia is quoted in the article as saying, “You can have a head injury where the person is comatose or in a vegetative state for the rest of their life. Or, you can have someone who is dazed and confused and needs quite a bit of rehabilitation to reorient them, or relearn how to walk or how to think.”

However, the article points out that many riders feel it is their choice whether they should wear a helmet or not. They feel police should do more to enforce the exisiting rules with young riders.

The proposed legislation is with the transportation committee in Harrisburg. It is uncertain whether it will receive support.