The letter to the editor below was originally published by the Lincoln Journal-Star on February 13, 2021.
The Nebraska Legislature will once again consider repealing the all-rider motorcycle helmet law, which has been saving lives and preventing catastrophic injuries for more than 30 years. If advanced, LB581 would severely, if not completely, nullify current protections by reducing compliance to only minors. In states with youth-specific helmet laws, research finds helmet use decreased and youth mortality increased. In 2019, there were nearly 10 times as many unhelmeted fatalities in states without a universal helmet law compared to states with one.
Additionally, crashes involving motorcycle riders are costly. In Nebraska in 2019, motorcycle crashes amounted to over $55 million in total costs. Yet, the economic and fatality toll could be even worse. Motorcycle helmet use protected the lives of 16 riders in the state and saved over $180 million in comprehensive costs resulting from motorcycle crashes in 2017.
Last year, 33 riders lost their lives on Nebraska roads, a spike of more than 37% over the five-year average. Repealing the all-rider helmet requirement is contrary to addressing this upturn and will pull from the wallets of every Nebraskan. Strong support in numerous opinion polls shows that the public appreciates the wisdom and value of these laws.
Especially during this time of overly burdened emergency rooms and hospitals, we urge the Legislature to heed the overwhelming majority support for a commonsense safety requirement and reject LB581.
President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
President and CEO, Skilled Motorcyclist Association – Responsible Trained and Educated Riders (SMARTER)