Not everyone may agree with it but the law is clear: anyone riding a motorcycle must wear a federally approved DOT helmet when doing so in New Jersey. Many people have differing opinions on this law, as the line between what is safe for riders and the government’s infringement upon adult’s decision-making is constantly being walked on.
It is one thing when there is a law in place for children wearing protective gear, as they are not old enough or responsible enough to be able to make a decision such as this on their own. For grown adults, however, this is not as easy of a decision. Some people do not agree with being forced to wear a helmet, especially those who are old enough to remember a time when it was not required to do so. Nonetheless, the law states that whether you are the driver or a passenger everyone riding a motorcycle must be wearing a helmet at all times.
Even if you disagree with the law on the grounds that adults deserve the right to make a decision on what they can and cannot wear on their own without interference from the government, the statistics paint a scary picture that even the most hard-to-convince person must admit are not ideal circumstances. First of all, when riding a motorcycle any accident will almost always be more severe. That is because there is nothing to protect the driver from the road or any other vehicles besides the clothes they have on their back and hopefully a helmet.
The number of fatalities that occur due to motorcycles vary every year, but the numbers are still too high for anyone’s liking. In 2015 it was reported that approximately 50 people were killed in a motorcycle accident which was thankfully down from 62 who died the previous year. Neither of these compares to back in 2006 when nearly 100 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. It is statistics like these that show the need for motorcycle safety improvement, and while wearing a helmet may not have saved all of the people involved in these incidents, they may have saved some of them while also decreasing the number of serious accidents that were not fatal that also occurred.
The condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE has been highlighted in the news lately because as more studies are being conducted, the more we are learning about just how fragile the brain is and how injuries can affect a person over the long term. CTE is more common in activities and sports where the brain is damaged repeatedly over a long period of time, but the reports prove that any damage to the brain can have significant impacts on a person’s health later in life and sadly, may even be the cause of why one’s life may end prematurely. There are some accidents that a motorcycle helmet may not be able to save you from but if there is a chance that serious injury could be averted and your brain can stay protected, it is a chance that everyone should take whether it is the law or not.
If none of this is enough to convince you that you should wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle then consider this, a person is 29 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than someone who is involved in a car accident – and 5 times more likely to be injured. Again, wearing an approved helmet will not reverse those numbers completely, but studies show that doing so can increase your levels of safety significantly, which is even more important than following the law. The fine for not wearing motorcycle helmet is not a terribly large one in New Jersey, as it usually will only be a $25 ticket with no points being issued to you either. Whether or not this fine is enough to ensure that everyone follows the law is up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is whether the alternative of what could happen if you are involved in an accident while driving a motorcycle is worth not wearing the correct protective gear that is literally the only thing between your head and the asphalt.
The question on whether or not it is right to force all adults to wear motorcycle helmets in New Jersey may be a discussion that continues forever, but as of now the law in place has the matter settled, at least as far as the courts go. Until anything changes in this aspect, no one will be able to legally circumvent the law despite how passionate they may be in thinking it is unjust. Even if someone is willing to pay the fines just so they can have the freedom of riding a motorcycle without a helmet, it is a dangerous decision that statistics show is clearly not the smartest one. None of this means that people who drive a car can be less aware or responsible when they are behind the wheel and out on the road, but if you are going to ride a motorcycle it is very important to be aware of the risks as well as the law. For no matter how careful you believe you are being when you are out there on your motorcycle, you are not the only person out there on the roads and any small mistake by you or any of the other drivers can be the type that you may never recover from.