Helmet-less crashes

Seventy percent in mortorcycle accidents aren't wearing head gear
Andy Ouriel
Jun 7, 2013


Sandusky resident Kristina McGraw, 48, died Monday on Ohio 101 when her Harley-Davidson slammed into an SUV that pulled in front of her. 

She wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Avon resident Daniel Gierlach, 55, sustained life-threatening injuries Wednesday in Margaretta Township when he lost control of his Honda Shadow 1100 and slammed into a garbage bin.

He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Illinois resident Robert Rummel, 40, suffered multiple bone fractures Thursday morning in downtown Sandusky when a woman drove a pickup over him and fled the scene.He also wasn’t wearing a helmet. 

Notice a pattern here?

Helmet yeah

Some may contend the 2013 edition of Ohio Bike Week — a 10-day festival considered the region’s most popular motorcycle extravaganza — has been somewhat marred so far by a few wicked crashes.

This same contingent would argue the injuries two of the riders sustained could have been lessened if they simply wore a helmet. It’s simply unknown if Monday’s crash could have resulted in injury, not death, had the rider been wearing a helmet. 

About 70 percent of the 104 motorcycle-related crashes in this area from 2009 through 2011 involved riders who were not wearing helmets, according to a Register analysis of Erie Regional Planning traffic data. Three of the four fatal motorcycle crashes during this period involved riders without helmets.

“There is consistent and compelling research showing that wearing a motorcycle helmet protects riders from death and serious or disabling brain injuries,” said Cathy Chase, a spokeswoman representing Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The national organization strives to make roads safer, including enforcing motorcycle helmets in each state.

A 2012 Government Accountability Office report indicated the only way to reduce motorcycle fatalities is to mandate helmets for all motorcyclists and their passengers in every state, including Ohio

The Buckeye State represents one of about 30 U.S. states and territories where certain riders must wear a helmet, including:

• Any licensed driver 17 or younger.
• Any licensed driver who has operated a motorcycle for less than one year.
• All passengers if the operator is required to wear a helmet.

The helmet can be a full-face or half-shell helmet, as long as the Ohio Department of Transportation approves of the model. 

Helmet no

Despite the figures, both in percentages and body count, many motorcyclists still choose to forgo strapping on a helmet when riding.

“I don’t want to feel restricted,” said Rick Adkins, a Sullivan, Ohio, resident participating in this week’s Ohio Bike Week events. “I don’t want to feel I’m enclosed.”

Adkins joined more than 200 other motorcyclists and passengers during a Bike Week-sponsored run Thursday morning, departing from Mad River Harley-Davidson on Milan Road near Ohio 2. Of the 200 riders, fewer than 50 wore a helmet.

“It’s a personal preference,” Adkins said. “I like to have a choice.”

Ohio chapters affiliated with national movements against motorcyclists being forced to wear helmets continue to fight legislation limiting their freedom. These groups also say pro-helmet groups, such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, twist the facts.

“We have proven that helmet and protective clothing will not solve the facility problem, only education and awareness,” according to a statement from Ohio-based American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. “The statistics clearly show that states who have safety education training for both riders and drivers have the lowest number of fatalities and serious injury (cases) caused during motorcycle accidents.”Other national campaigns — such as Look Twice Save a Life Motorcycles are Everywhere — aim to educate drivers on paying more attention to two-wheel riders. Drivers of cars, trucks and buses are often the culprits in bike crashes resulting in injury or death.Stay safe

Stay safe 

Since 1978, Dr. Tim Amidon has enjoyed riding motorcycles. The Firelands Regional Medical Center emergency physician is often seen rumbling along the region’s roads on his Harley-Davidson.

But he always dreads Ohio Bike Week, which often coincides with an alarming number of motorcycle-related injuries or deaths. Those patients often end up in the Firelands emergency room.

“During this time of year, we always gear up and prepare for it,” Amidon said.

Amidon wears a helmet at all times. In the colder months, he dons a full-face helmet, switching to a half-helmet during the summer.

He recommends bikers wear a helmet at all times.

“The helmet reduces the likelihood of death or a serious head injury,” he said. “We take an active approach of people coming in here for minor motorcycle accidents. If they’re not wearing a helmet, we tell them to wear it. The excuses that it messes up your hair or that it’s uncomfortable is true, but the alternative of death is worse.”

And certainly, a helmet never guarantees immunity from harm.

“You can be a safe motorcyclist, but it’s the other person you still have to worry about,” he said.



But I got stopped and ticketed for having my seatbelt fastened but not my shoulder harness.

Makes sense...


Yes, it does pooh? You have to wear your entire seatbelt not just fasten it. A brilliant guy like you must know this.


So in the context of not wearing a helmet that makes sense to you deermeat?


Yes it does! Do you really think that airbag is going to be your savior? We all are suppose to abide by the laws. Yes, even you pooh! Pay up! LOL!!!!


Right! A fastened seatbelt with the protection of a 2 ton vehicle and someone on a cycle without a helmet are sensible laws to you.

Whatever you wanna think deerscat.


deer doesn't get the comparison. Just stop trying to make sense of it to them....they won't ever get it.


There is no comparison to get!


There is if you have reading comprehension above a fourth grade level. His point was that the law requires seat belts, but not helmets - he was comparing the two different legal approaches to two comparable safety measures.


Well, you must have only went to the third grade. The law does require helmets in some instances. If you are suppose to be wearing a helmet and you aren't, you get a ticket. If you are not wearing your seat belt you get a ticket in all cases. Read much? Comprehend at all?


You are right Deertracker.

Apparently someone is crying because he got ticketed for a seat belt violation and whining inside : " It's not fair! Bikers ride without helmets, and THEY don't get ticketed (sniff, sniff)."


Don't like the law ? Well, that's the law.


More than you, deer. The law requires seatbelts in ALL instances, hence a difference. Difference is a word we use to describe a basis for a comparison.


Contango has to wear a helmet when he walks.


This article is lacking the obvious statistic: What percent of accidents where the rider WASN'T wearing a helmet resulted in a fatality vs. the percent where the rider WAS wearing a helmet.


They dont want u to know statistics!


How much is your head worth?

Tool Box

Ya can't fix stupid!


Yes you can. Just put the "tools" back in the "tool box" and put a lock on it.

And make sure it's enclosed in a sound proof room so you can't hear them quoting Ron White on a consistent basis.

Eph 2 8-10

Years ago, a friend of mine's brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. She said, "the only mark on him was on his head."

Need I say more? Stay safe out there...


how many of the fatal accidents have alcohol involved, by either the rider or the person in car

local man

Until it is mandated by law that helmets need to be worn this is a moot discussion. Both major motorcyle accidents this week related to automobile driver error


We don't need no stinking helmet laws messing up natural selection.

sandtown born a...

Put a helmet on your child to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, then ride a murdercycle with no helmet. Yeah that makes sense!!!! NOT !!!! The law should be if you don't want to wear a helmet you must be a organ donor. Just a matter of time before you lay it down


How is it the motorcyles fault, that motorist our running us down? Two of the 3 scenarios listed in the article, involved motorists running down the rider. Where does a helmet prevent THAT exactly?




It's not the motorcyclists fault. But what are the chances of a survival had their domepiece been protected? Arguments like yours are the biggest problem. WE ALL KNOW that a lot of these accidents are motorists faults. It's about protecting yourself in case that situation happens to you. Construction workers don't wear hardhats because they might run their head into a steel beam....

sandtown born a...

You pretty much said it all with that comment. I watched a family member die a slow agonizing death from a head injury from a motorcycle accident, I would not wish that on anyone taking care of him in hospice until he passed away was the hardest thing I have ever done. Think of who will be holding your hand when you pass? Is it fair to them that it was your right not to wear a helmet?? They will elect the helmet I guarantee you that. I always was anti helmet until this tragedy struck my family. I won't ride without I don't want to put my loved ones thru that.

Eph 2 8-10


Eph 2 8-10

The helmet won't prevent an accident, but it could prevent serious head injury in the event of a accident. Think about it....


When you're dead, does it really matter who's fault it is?


Had a friend who hit a deer on his bike. Did a 3 point landing on his head and knees. He did have to have brain surgery. But they told him if he had a helmet on he would be dead. It wouldve snapped his neck. So you just never know.


I hear this all the time. The doctor/EMT/police officer said that NOT wearing a seatbelt/helmet saved the guy's life. It's utter garbage. First of all, NONE of them are qualified to make that conclusion. Doctors are taught to TREAT injuries, EMT's are taught to stabilize injured patients, and cops are taught the law. None have training in the physics and mechanisms of how traumatic injuries happen. Biomedical engineers have such training, and they are the ones designing the helmets and seatbelts. There has been extensive study of the effect of helmets on neck and spine injuries, and none of those involved would recommend not wearing a helment.

sandtown born a...

Good comment nemesis, They would never recommend not wearing a helmet for the simple fact with no brain everything else don't matter anyways.


"But they told him if he had a helmet on he would be dead"

Who told him that? I don't believe it.


helmets break necks!

sandtown born a...

No helmet protects the brain( in a sarcastic voice) people are soooo stupid. Helmets break necks what a idiotic statement. Facts are facts don't wear one I don't know you I could care less, make sure you check the organ donor box so someone can survive from what's left after your brain dead


I've been on Rte. 20 a few years ago and a kid on a crotch rocket zoomed past me going at least 80+ mph, doing wheelies going in between cars on the double yellow line and weaving ... he was also being an idiot and very careless... don't tell me the motorcyclists are perfect cause they're not.... even if he would've had a helmet on at that speed and something happened I often wonder if he got caught or killed. He came from nowhere and a few seconds he was out of sight. He went by so fast I'm not sure if he had a helmet on or not.


Down at Mid-Ohio, I've seen riders in proper protective gear crash at triple digit speeds and walk off the track. Some have even picked up their bike and kept racing.


I read that 70% of cycle accidents are the fault of the rider. I also remember that on the show "ER", they called them Donor-cycles.


That statistic is missing some key points necessary to it being accurate. The vast majority of car-motorcycle collisions are the car driver's fault. In fact, over half of car-motorcycle collisions involve a car turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. However, 70% of motorcycle accidents are single vehicle crashes, where there's no one but the rider to be at fault, rather than car-motorcycle collisions.


Seatbelts vs Helmets...the point is when you wear a seatbelt in a car, chances are you won't be ejected from your vehicle in to a possible lane of other vehicles to possibly create more harm. A helmet..means NOTHING! The difference is...a biker in an accident (regardless of fault) is likely to be ejected. An auto driver or passenger wearing a seatbelt is not likely to be ejected in to oncoming traffic, so hopefully would not create more issues. So a motorcycle rider, wearing helmet or not is still going to be a deficit for other traffic. That is the difference between helmet v seatbelt. Basically..a bike rider takes their lives in their hands and some others every time they ride. Not against the riders..just telling the truth!


That entire line of reasoning is negated by air bags, which also prevent ejection. The real reason for the legal disparity is that motorcyclists have done a good job of organizing to oppose the nanny state dictating their risk threshhold, and drivers aren't sufficiently motivated to do the same.

The Answer Person

In the emergency room the doctors and the coronor will tell you that there is NOTHING TO FIX when they come in. Not using a helmet (or even riding a murdercycle at all as they call them) leaves little to be able to salvage. It is just like putting your face on a belt sander.


Which simply isn't true. Proper FULL protective gear has allowed many a rider to walk out of the hospital after being checked out. If you're going to wear a helmet, full face is the only sensible option.

What's funny are the people who wear a top of the line full face helmet with shorts and a tank top. They're essentially setting themselves up to have all their mental faculties and be fully aware of the pain when they are skinned alive by the pavement.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

I laugh at the shorts and flip flop people who ride. I've always been of the opinion that common sense should prevail.

2cents's picture

To wear or not to wear! I think it should be a choice between you and your health insurance company. An optional clause that may make your premium higher but still your choice. Your coverage may be voided if you choose the wear option but do not! Keep it a personal choice in my eyes.


Excellent solution!!!

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

There's nothing wrong with protecting yourself by wearing a helmet.
On the flip side, a helmet does absolutely nothing to prevent a motorcyclist from getting hit by a car.
I will admit this, there are some commenters on here that don't ride but still should be required to were a helmet.

sandtown born a...

may not protect them from the accident but it will decrease the blow to the brain, without a brain everything else doesn't really matter.


"A 2012 Government Accountability Office report indicated the only way to reduce motorcycle fatalities is to mandate helmets for all motorcyclists"

There's a big problem right there. It isn't the only way, and not the best way either. Leave it to a government office to only endorse one solution. The best way to lower motorcycle crash deaths would be to prevent the crashes in the first place. Helmets won't prevent crashes. Driver's education and severe penalties for distracted driving will prevent many of these crashes and deaths. That's education and severe penatiles for both auto and motorcycle operators. Helmets help if a crash occurs. As usual, the problem is now addressed after the fact.