Should PA Reinstate Mandatory Helmet Laws For Bikers?

Posted on: December 16th, 2010       Attorney Thomas Newell

Motorcycle riders pushed for a repeal of Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet laws based upon the theory of individual biker rights. The Pennsylvania Legislature acted on those protests and helmetless bikers became legal in 2003. The result of this change has been more deaths, financial losses for hospitals and emergency personnel and, more medical bill payments made by PA taxpayers.

Studies have shown that in 2008 there were 114 helmetless motorcycle rider deaths. That is a 600% increase from the number of such fatalities in 1998 – five years before the change in PA’s helmet law. Pennsylvania law does not require motorcycle owners to pay for medical health insurance. As a Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney, I have represented many bikers who did not pay for private health insurance. Their bills are paid by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania thru the Department of Public Welfare. The hospitals, surgeons and emergency personnel are paid just pennies on the dollar for their medical services – sometimes at a 10% reimbursement rate!

A December 9, 2010 editorial in The Reading Eagle noted that the National Transportation Safety Board just released its report regarding 2009 fatalities. Last year, 4,400 riders died in the United States. That is nearly 2x the number of biker deaths in the years before the U.S. Congress repealed a federal law requiring states to mandate the use of helmets by bikers. Medical studies show that the leading cause of rider deaths was head trauma. The majority of those bikers were not wearing helmets.

Wearing helmets saves lives, reduces the financial burden on health providers and saves taxpayer dollars. As a Pennsylvania motorcycle crash lawyer who has seen devastating biker injuries, I urge the 2011 Pennsylvania Legislature to pass a bill mandating that all occupants of motorcycles wear helmets. If you are the victim of a PA motorcycle accident, you may contact me for a free home consultation at 800-980-4842 or via my website of