Fewer Helmets, Higher Healthcare Costs

(Photo: Ben Ferenchak)

We’ve written before about an unintended consequences of state repeals of motorcycle helmet laws: more organs available for transplant.  Here’s one more consequence, from Michigan, which stopped requiring helmets last year:

State legislators changed the law last year so that only riders younger than 21 must wear helmets. The average insurance payment on a motorcycle injury claim was $5,410 in the two years before the law was changed, and $7,257 after it was changed – an increase of 34 percent, the study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found.

After adjusting for the age and type of motorcycle, rider age, gender, marital status, weather and other factors, the actual increase was about 22 percent relative to a group of four comparative states, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, the study found.

“The cost per injury claim is significantly higher after the law changed than before, which is consistent with other research that shows riding without a helmet leads to more head injuries,” David Zuby, chief research officer for the data institute and an affiliated organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said.

(HT: Kevin Murphy)


Requiring a helmet would increase the effort and monetary cost to riding your bike, which, should decrease the number of people riding motor cycles. What is more what are the chances of someone getting into an accident with a helmet vs without a helmet. If a helmet is uncomfortable or limits vision it would increase the chances of accidents. Also if it is more dangerous to ride a bike without a helmet could people be driving more safely as to prevent accidents.

If you only look at the change in cost without looking at the change in frequency you can make no meaningful conclusions of the effect of the law.


So I assume that insurance companies will now hike the prices on people who ride without helmets, the way they do on smokers?


Talking about planes, trains and automobiles...

My car has a speed limit of something like 135 mph while nowhere in the US I can drive over 85. I don't think my Honda Accord gets regularly exported to be driven on a German autobahn...

Shouldn't we just have lower speed limits defaults in all vehicles, say 85 mph? Would something like that save lives and even a bit of fuel?

Just shooting the breeze...


We did have that rule. It was part of the ridiculous 55 mph speed limit.
We can have a cause and effect argument on the subject. But I'll lay it out-accidents and deaths have gone down since the repeal of 55 and the 85 speedometer limit. As for saving fuel, that was the specious argument for 55. But it did not take into account the amount of productivity that was being wasted to save gasoline. Also, the speeding tickets ate into the gas savings.

Ben F

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