Yale Study Pinpoints Motorcycle Riders Who Don't Wear Helmets | Connecticut Public Radio

Yale Study Pinpoints Motorcycle Riders Who Don't Wear Helmets

May 17, 2011

A new Yale University study has pinpointed the types of riders involved in motorcycle accidents. Researchers think the data could be used to justify a mandatory helmet law in the state.

Adam Landman is an emergency room doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He says he's tired of seeing motorcycle crash victims.

"My goal would be to go out of business," Landman says. "I don't want to be taking care of crash victims in the emergency department."

Landman presented his data at a traffic safety conference at Yale. He and a team of doctors analyzed six years of motorcycle crash data in Connecticut.

"We wanted to find out who among those involved in a crash were not wearing helmets."

They found the helmet-less were more often men, passengers, summer riders and those under 18.

That's despite the state's partial helmet law which requires riders under the age of age 18 to wear one.

He say's the study underscores what they already knew.

"While riding a motorcycle itself can be a dangerous that activity, there are things you can do to mediate that risk and wearing a helmet is one of them," Landman says.

He hopes the data will be used for education and to support a mandatory helmet law. Connecticut hasn't had one since 1976. Numerous bills have been introduced, but none has passed.

That's thanks in part to Rich Paukner. He's with the Connecticut Motorcycle Rider's Association. His organization was founded on the idea that helmet use should be a choice. It's about personal freedom, he says.

"It's inconsistent to say okay, we're going to protect the motorcyclists from themselves by forcing them to wear a helmet but we're not going to protect the smoker from themselves, we're not going to protect the drinker from themselves, we're not going to protect the obese from themselves," Paukner says.

Paukner says his group is willing to work with others on education initiatives but will continue to fight any legislation.

The Yale study will be published in the May issue of the journal of Connecticut Medicine.