Letters to the Editor

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HELMETS: CDC study contains several problems

Letter by Randall M. Knodel, Tacoma on Feb. 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm | No Comments »
February 22, 2013 1:19 pm

There are numerous problems with the Centers for Disease Control study cited in in your helmet law editorial (TNT, 2-5).

On page six of the study is a section that reads: “People who do not wear helmets are more likely to be killed in a crash . . . 41 percent of motorcycle operators and 51 percent of motorcycle passengers who died in 2008 were not wearing a helmet.”

Not to state the obvious, but that would mean that 59 percent of motorcycle operators and 49 percent of motorcycle passengers who died in 2008 were wearing a helmet. It appears that the majority of motorcycle fatality victims were wearing a helmet.

This statistic does not identify the cause of death in these fatalities. For the unhelmeted people who died of trauma to internal organs, the fact that they were not wearing a helmet is irrelevant. It is an irrelevant statistic for some who died of a head injury unless you are willing to jump to the conclusion that helmeted riders never die of head injuries.

In the end, this statistic tells us nothing. The argument of the CDC study is that forcing all motorcyclists to wear a helmet would save money. It’s not clear from where the study gets its numbers. The claim is that the U.S. saved nearly $3 billion due to helmet use in 2008 and could have saved nearly an additional $1.3 billion in 2008 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

How does the CDC come to that conclusion? How did the U.S. save this money?

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