8 Ball In The Wind

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Highway Head Injury Argument Data Disregarded By Legislators?

A lot has been written on the subject of head injury prevention for highway users in Washington State.  Going through the thorough data from the Washington State Dept. of Transportation; we can learn the gender of collision victims, their age, their race, and many other demographic factors.  As well as what level of influences such as alcohol or speeding may have resulted in collisions.  What is much more difficult to discover, is the number of head injuries resulting from collisions.  For that information, one has to go to other data bases.  Such as the Washington State Dept. of Health's online resources.  When we look at the head injuries between 2009 and 2013; it is quite apparent that the Head Injury Prevention Act of 1990 may well have been aimed at the wrong demographic.

If only the data and graphs from Washington St. DOT are used, it would appear that the three most dangerous categories of road users are; bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.  But the Dept. of Health data show something quite different.  When looking at the data for non-fatal head injury, it turns out that automobile occupants actually accounted for more non-fatal head injuries than bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, combined.  The data for fatal head injuries also shows that automobile occupants suffer significantly more fatal head injuries than the other three groups combined.  Sadly, that pattern continues for our youngest citizens, with more head injuries among automobile occupants under 18 than the other three groups combined.

Even with; seat belts and shoulder restraints, child booster seats, baby car seats, and air bags, more people receive head injuries as occupants of motor vehicles.  Yet we have heard the hue and cry for mandatory bicycle helmets come and go.  We live under a mandatory motorcycle helmet use law, even though the vast majority of fatal motorcycle injuries are not head related (according to NHTSA 81% of helmeted motorcyclist fatalities are due to injuries other than to the head, and 64% of non-helmeted motorcyclists fatalities are not head related).  There have even been calls for requiring pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists to wear bright colored clothing for protection against being struck by automobile drivers.  Yet the one group that even with all the current safety devices, and metal shell and crumple zone protection around them, still receives the most number of head injuries is not required to comply with the Head Injury Prevention Act of 1990.

Is it because the paternalistic need for some in the legislature to 'protect' some citizens from themselves does not extend to a majority that has the power to vote them all out of office?  Is that the reason that even suggesting requiring automobile occupants to wear a helmet to protect them from head injuries is openly laughed at in the legislature.  Yet they currently oppose any amendment to offer 'choice' in the wearing of a helmet while riding a motorcycle.  Somehow linking the act of not wearing a helmet to more collisions occurring.  As if helmet use somehow reduced the risk of being involved in a collision.  Think about that.

Catch you on the road sometime...


  1. I take care of a sister with TBI. (TRUAMATIC BRAIN INJURY) She was in a car accident. But I ride a Motorcycle & I don't fear riding. Need I say more?

    1. Exactly my point. I have spoken to several legislators, and virtually none of those that bring up TBI as a reason for us wearing a helmet even consider automobile occupants wearing them for protection as an acceptable option.