The debate over whether all motorcyclists in South Carolina should be required to wear helmets has once again come up in the state legislature. State Sen. Ralph Anderson of Greenville has sponsored a bill that would make helmets mandatory for all riders, instead of only those younger than 21. Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to veto the bill should it reach her desk.
Passing a mandatory motorcycle helmet law would put South Carolina in line with 20 other states, including its neighbors in Georgia and North Carolina, which already require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
The bill’s introduction comes at a time when South Carolina is experiencing a double-digit increase in the number of motorcycle fatalities on its roads. Although it’s true that there are a number of factors that could be responsible for the spike in motorcycle deaths, it is clear that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the likelihood of being killed or seriously injured in a South Carolina motorcycle crash.
A recent op-ed piece in the Anderson Independent-Mail supporting the helmet bill cited statistics that indicate what a difference wearing a helmet can make for motorcyclists who are involved in crashes. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that wearing a helmet cuts the chance of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent. This is significant considering that studies show that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than other motorists to be involved in a crash.