New research suggests helmet use laws can save lives and reduce healthcare costs. The study, "STATE-LEVEL HELMET USE LAWS, HELMET USE, AND HEAD INJURIES IN EMS PATIENTS INVOLVED IN MOTORCYCLE COLLISIONS," compared helmet use and head trauma in emergency medical services (EMS) patients involved in motorcycle collisions in states with and without helmet use laws.
According to the study, 18 states in 2022 had laws that require helmet use by motorcyclists who are 21 years of age or older. The research sample found that in 2022, 11,733 (66%) motorcycle collisions occurred in states without helmet use laws compared to 6,029 motorcycle collisions in states with helmet laws. The states without helmet use laws had higher proportions of unhelmeted patients, EMS-documented head injuries, moderate or severe head injuries and occurred in non-metro/rural areas.
The study used a multivariate model that included factors such as age, sex, race, urbanicity, helmet use and presence of state law. Using the ImageTrend Collaborate™ national dataset, the research concluded that unhelmeted motorcyclists were over three times more likely to have a moderate or severe head injury than those wearing a helmet in collisions attended by EMS.
Limitations of the study included the inability to assess the severity of patient death as not all are attended by EMS or deaths would be pronounced at hospital. Furthermore, some information such as helmet use may have been in the patient care narrative, which would not be captured in this analysis.
These new findings suggest that states with laws requiring helmet use for motorcyclists can help reduce the risk of head injuries among crash victims. The research emphasizes the need for universal helmet laws across all states and underscores the importance of wearing helmets while riding a motorcycle.
Overall, this study provides valuable insight into the impact of helmet use laws on preventing head injuries and saving lives. Further research is needed to determine the long-term effects of helmet use laws and their impact on motorcycle safety in the United States. This study highlights the importance of prehospital data when analyzing the impacts of health policy changes.
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