CDC report puts spotlight on helmet laws - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

CDC report puts spotlight on helmet laws

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study Thursday that found fewer motorcyclists die in states that have universal helmet requirements.

The study found no-helmet biker deaths were about five times more likely in states with less restrictive laws.

States like Wisconsin, which only requires helmets for those under 18 and those riding with a permit.

"I feel uncomfortable riding without a helmet," said Dane County Deputy Steve Mueller, who patrols on a motorcycle and teaches riding safety courses to other police officers. But he knows some motorcyclists feel differently.

"A lot of people just don't want someone else to tell 'em what kind of safety measures to take," he said.

"In Wisconsin, the greater pressure has come from motorcycling activist groups that prefer not to make it mandatory," said Gregory Patzer, manager of the state Motorcycle Safety Program.

Patzer has been with that program since 1981 and says he remembers no serious push to reinstate Wisconsin's helmet requirement, which was stricken decades ago.

He offered us some alarming statistics for Wisconsin.

"2002 through 2011, of the fatal crashes, approximately 72% of motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet," he said.

And Patzer says it jumped to 92% in 2011.

"You know, there's a human toll to not wearing a helmet," Deputy Mueller said. "And a rider's family and friends pay that price."

The C-D-C looked at the economic toll, as well, finding that, from 2008 through 2011, the U-S could have saved one-and-a-half million dollars in medical expenses and lost work productivity if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

27 other states have limited helmet laws similar or identical to Wisconsin. Nineteen states require all riders to wear helmets. Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire have no helmet laws in place.

Previous CDC studies have found riders who don't wear helmets are 40-percent more likely to die from a head injury.


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