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Motorcycle Helmets: Vital Lifesavers or Superfluous Equipment?

Essay by   •  February 22, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  867 Words (4 Pages)  •  919 Views

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Some people believe that it is acceptable not to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. I, however, am not one of those people. I firmly believe that motorcycle helmets should be worn by all who drive or ride a motorcycle.

The brain is the most important organ/muscle that one possesses, and extra care should be taken to ensure that it does not get damaged. It regulates all parts of one's life. Hunger, heart rate, sleep cycles, and personality are just a few of the aspects that the brain controls.

Most people take for granted just how precious the brain is, and neglect to take care of it properly while on a motorcycle. In states without helmet laws, only 34 to 54 percent of motorcyclists wear helmets. This number contrasts sharply with the 98 percent of motorcyclists who wear them in states that enforce helmet laws.

A helmet is a motorcyclist's most effective piece of safety equipment. Helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If a motorcyclist chooses not to wear a helmet and experiences a crash, severe damage to the brain can occur. Motorcycle crashes account for 20 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. Concussions, brain contusions, skull fractures, and hematoma are all types of common head injuries. A concussion is a jarring injury to the brain that can result in damage to any of the four major lobes, including the frontal lobe. If this occurs, one's personality can be altered, and a normally outgoing person may become introverted and quiet. If the amygdla is damaged, a person who is ordinarily placid and calm might suddenly start acting violently towards others. A skull fracture is when the skull itself is cracked or broken, and pieces of the skull press on or actually cut the brain. At times, this type of injury can be fatal, but could be avoided by wearing a motorcycle helmet.

Some people argue that helmets impair hearing, obscure vision, and are ineffective at protecting the head at speeds over 13 miles an hour, but the above stated assertions are simply not true.

Less than three percent of peripheral vision is limited by a motorcycle helmet, and when a motorcyclist needs to check traffic, they simply turn their heads a little more. There have also been questions raised concerning the field of vision when wearing a helmet while operating a motorcycle. The state drive licensing agencies require at least a 140-degree field of vision, and motorcycle helmets provide 210 degrees. As you can see, vision restriction is a non-issue.

On the issue of helmets impairing hearing, motorcyclists wearing helmets hear just as well or even better than motorcyclists who don't wear one. One might assume that helmets prevent a motorcyclist from hearing surrounding traffic, but this is not the case. Without a helmet, the wind and the sound of the engine are loud, and important sounds must be louder than those noises in order to be heard. Studies show that helmets reduce wind and engine noises, so surrounding sounds are actually easier to hear.

A few individuals claim that helmets cannot absorb the shock of an impact at high speeds. The reality is that most motorcycle crashes don't involve a person crashing head-on into an object. They hit the pavement or other surface at an angle, traveling about 25 miles per hour. Crash data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation in an experiment concerning helmet effectiveness shows that motorcycle helmets are quite successful at preventing head injuries in crashes where the speeds greatly exceeded 13 miles per hour. Our



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