Motorcycles can be fun, but they also pose several significant risks to motorcyclists compared to people in enclosed vehicles (cars, trucks, and minivans). A motorcycle does not afford its driver much protection in the event of an accident, so they must always exercise caution and observe all motorcycle laws. In New Jersey, one of the most important motorcycle laws is the state’s helmet law.
New Jersey follows a universal helmet law for motorcycles, meaning all drivers and passengers must wear helmets regardless of individual experience level or age. Some other states only apply this law to drivers and passengers under the age of 18, but this is not the case in New Jersey. Not only can failure to wear a helmet lead to legal penalties, but it can also lead to severe or even fatal injuries. If you or a loved one was recently injured in an accident, learn how the helmet law in New Jersey can affect your claim by consulting a knowledgeable New Jersey motorcycle accident attorney.
Finding the Right Motorcycle Helmet
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that proper helmet use can reduce a motorcyclist’s risk of a fatal injury by 37% and the risk of a head injury by up to 69%. New Jersey law requires motorcyclists and their passengers to wear Department of Transportation-approved helmets that fully cover the head, feature chin straps or neck straps, and have reflectors on both sides.
Many types of helmets are available that meet these requirements, but a fully enclosed helmet with a face visor offers the best protection. New Jersey also offers additional safety resources for motorcyclists that explain the benefits of wearing a properly fitting helmet. The New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety tracks the number of motorcycle accidents and accident-related injuries and deaths each year and recommends riders wear appropriate protective clothing along with DOT-approved helmets.
Potential Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident
Helmets save lives in motorcycle accidents in several ways. One of the primary concerns in any motorcycle accident is the likelihood of the driver falling off his or her bike. There is no seatbelt or anything else to secure the driver on the bike, so it’s likely he or she will hit the ground after a collision. A helmet can cushion the impact and prevent a fatal head injury. When head injuries do occur, properly fitting DOT-approved helmets mitigate the damage.
Impact isn’t the only risk from a motorcycle accident. Accidents that occur at high speed may send drivers flying down the road, sliding on asphalt, and sustaining friction burns and injuries from road debris. A helmet can prevent damage to the head and face while sliding on the road surface. Other road attire that may help reduce your chances of suffering serious injuries include sturdy outwear such as a leather jacket and abrasion-proof pants, heavy-duty gloves, and boots that cover the ankle.
A motorcycle accident can easily lead to serious abrasions, cuts, burns, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. While a broken bone or cut will mend with time, any injury to the brain or spinal cord will likely result in permanent disability or other repercussions. Wearing a helmet is the best way to reduce your risk of sustaining a permanent or catastrophic injury on the road.
Preventing Fatal Accidents in New Jersey
Officials in the state report that about 27% of all fatal accidents involving a motorcycle showed evidence of alcohol in the motorcyclist’s bloodstream. Driving under the influence in any vehicle is extremely dangerous and illegal, but the danger increases dramatically on a motorcycle that does not protect its driver. Another 27% of fatal accidents resulted from driver inattention, and 24% more resulted from unsafe speeds. Motorcyclists significantly reduce their risk of suffering fatal or catastrophic injuries when they wear DOT-approved helmets, drive defensively, and refrain from using drugs or alcohol before driving.