Last week the City Council in Jackson made the move to require all cyclists in the city to start wearing helmets when they ride. If riders choose to ignore the new requirement then they will face a $75 fine.
The move by the City Council makes Jackson the fifth local government in the state to enact such a mandatory helmet law. The decision was several weeks in the making and had been strongly advocated by some who wanted the measure to pass to increase security for bicyclists in Jackson. In the end, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the measure. The new law will apply to cyclists on all public roads and sidewalks unless they are riding around in a cul-de-sac or a dead end residential street.
Though helmet laws were pushed during the mid-1990s, many states made the decision to leave the lawmaking to cities rather than enact statewide requirements. To date, 21 states, the District of Columbia, and at least 149 municipalities have enacted bicycle helmet laws. Most of these laws cover bicyclists under 16.
The arguments boil down to the same issues considered during debates over seat belt mandates. Helmets help save lives, something safety advocates point out, while opponents argue that laws requiring their use violates citizens' personal freedom.
Statistics hold a lot of sway, something supporters of the helmet measures have an abundance of. The Brain Injury Association of Mississippi, a group that strongly advocated for the new measure, said that research clearly demonstrates that 90% of the head injuries in bicyclists could have been prevented by simply wearing a helmet. Even more tragic, is that the risk of death from such injuries would be cut in half if riders wore helmets.
An ER doctor with one local Jackson hospital said that a recent increase in the popularity of bike riding has led to a corresponding increase in the number of accidents where cyclists are forced to seek medical treatment. The use of helmets significantly decreases the severity of the injuries the riders suffer. Rather than terrible brain injuries, riders often have only cuts and bruises.
Beyond the obvious benefits to health and safety that come with the introduction of such laws, there's a financial bottom line that also supports mandatory helmet laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the estimated annual cost of bicycle related injuries and deaths is $8 billion. Bicycle related head injuries are expensive because these injuries can endure and may require treatment for a lifetime. The NHTSA says that every dollar spent on bicycle helmets saves society $30 in indirect medical costs and other costs. Sounds like a pretty good investment.
If you have been injured and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi injury lawyers at Kobs & Philley at (601) 856-7800.
Source: "Jackson City Council adopts helmet law for cyclists; $75 fine," by Brian Eason, published at ClarionLedger.com.