Oklahoma’s Lack Of A Helmet Law May Not Help Motorcyclists

Bikers should ride with protection in mind

The "Look Twice for Motorcycles" campaign is all over television and radio this spring, as thousands of Oklahoma riders break out of their cabin fever. The Oklahoma's Motorcycle Safety Website features several of the public safety announcements, with an emphasis on what the motorcycle rider can do to enhance his or her safety.

The site offers training opportunities as well as a 2013 study done by the University of Central Oklahoma on motorcycle helmet use in areas where crashes occur most often. With the news that two motorcycle crashes have already taken the lives of Kansas riders, the results of the study, which found that over half of riders locally do not wear a helmet are sobering.

Study finds helmet use is less than 50 percent on I-35

Statistics were gathered on helmet use by motorcyclists and their passengers by the University's Industrial Safety Program for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. This is the third year of the survey, which uses observation posts on portions of roads in the Guthrie, Edmond and Oklahoma City area to count the number of helmets being used.

Observations of 622 motorcycles were recorded at the locations including Guthrie (I-35 and Hwy 33); Oklahoma I-35/I-40 Junction; and Edmond Hwy 66 and I-35 Junction. Driver helmet usage was at 46.7 percent, with passenger use at only 45 percent.

OkieMoto urges use of proper gear

Although Oklahoma law does not require the use of a helmet by adults, all those under the age of 18 must wear a crash helmet which complies with federal law. The law does require the use of a windshield to protect the rider from foreign objects, with goggles or a face shield in lieu of a shield on the bike.

The OkieMoto site, Oklahoma's official site for motorcycle safety and education has strong suggestions for helmet use as important protective gear. The promotional announcement is part of the popular "Look Twice for Motorcycles" campaign, which uses a shockingly close crash to illustrate the need to watch for bikes. The "cool gear" promo reminds that "a bare head is no match for a curb or car windshield, and irritants like bugs in the teeth and "distracting wind blasts" can be eliminated by the use of helmets with face shields.

Recent fatalities for helmetless riders

News stories from Topeka television station WIBW tell the tale of motorcycle riders who were involved in two serious accidents this month; one person not wearing a helmet died after his bike turned into an SUV which did not yield the right of way. A Topeka couple suffered serious injuries after a van turned in front of their motorcycle on K-4.

The campaign to get automobile drivers to be aware of motorcycles is needed more than ever with modern driving distractions such as texting and glancing at GPS units. But motorcyclists should take the advice of the OkieMoto site and get "geared up and trained up."

If you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle accident, even with a helmet on there could be devastating injuries to deal with. It is crucial to contact an attorney experienced with the court system and in handling insurance companies without delay.