Motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities resulted in about $16 billion in medical expenses and other costs in 2010, according to new data from the federal Government Accountability Office. However, the true cost of motorcycle accidents is likely higher, the agency says. This is because many motorcycle crashes cause long-term injuries, the costs of which are more difficult to measure.
Just over 4,500 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2010, and the average cost of each of those fatal crashes was approximately $1.2 million. In addition, 82,000 motorcyclists were injured during that year, with the average cost of each ranging from $2,500 to $1.4 million, depending upon the severity of the accident and the injury that resulted.
The report qualifies those numbers, however, stating that they are likely on the low side because of the difficulty in assessing the true lifetime cost of a motorcycle accident injury. This is because follow-up analyses of costs are usually only conducted for a small number of years, and because researchers do not generally take other economic costs, such as a loss of employment or decreased wages, into account when determining the financial impact of an accident and injury.
The release of this data appears to have reignited the ongoing debate about whether states should enact universal motorcycle helmet laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets prevented about 1,500 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2010, and proponents of helmet laws say that requiring their use is, therefore, a no-brainer.
Opponents say, however, that requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times is an infringement on personal liberty, and that helmets are not as effective as education and awareness in preventing crash deaths.
We discussed this topic in a previous motorcycle accident blog post, and it is one that will likely come up again both on this blog and in the local and national media. What do you think? Should motorcycle helmets be required?
Source: The Huffington Post, "Motorcycle deaths, injuries cost $16 billion," Joan Lowy, Nov. 27, 2012