Excerpt from: San Francisco Chronicle (click for full article)
Alaska health officials say it's a good idea to wear a helmet if you climb aboard a motorcycle on state roads.
A decade of motorcycle crash data indicates that people hospitalized after a crash were 70 percent more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury and 2.3 times more likely to die if they were not wearing a helmet.
The review looked at injuries from 2001 through 2010. Data from the Alaska Trauma Registry recorded 745 hospital stays for people on motorcycles — 13 percent of all motor vehicle injuries. Motorcycles were involved in 14 percent of all traffic deaths nationally in 2010 and 16 percent in Alaska. The study did not include Alaska motorcycle crash victims who died at the scene or on their way to a hospital.
Alaska law permits drivers 18 and older to ride without helmets. Helmets are required for passengers and drivers under 18. The report, Hull-Jilly said, allows a person can make a helmet decision based on accurate data.
A host of factors figure into motorcycle injuries, she said, including age, skill level and motorcycle power. A helmet may not make a difference in a collision with a semi, Hull-Jilly said.
"Chances are with the events and the forces, you're going to have other damage to other parts of your body, so you have the heighted lethality from the force in that event," she said.
However, the statistics showed that simple loss of control accounted for 46 percent of the injuries in motorcycle crashes. Properly fitted helmets can help in those crashes, as can protective clothing, she said.