Helmet laws save money and make people safer, too.
Motorcycle helmets save lives. That is, if motorcyclists wear them.
And there is clear evidence that mandatory helmet laws result in more motorcyclists wearing helmets. That's reason enough for Wisconsin to reexamine its partial helmet law. Here's another: Helmet laws save money.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month estimated that in 2010, more than $3 billion was saved because of helmet use nationwide. Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
The reason is simple: Helmets dramatically cut the risk of serious injury and death. Fewer injuries, or less-serious injuries, translate into lower health care costs. And it's not only the rider who saves.
When motorcyclists are hurt, everyone pays through higher insurance premiums -- or in the case of uninsured riders (and unhelmeted riders are more likely to be uninsured than other riders, the CDC says) -- the government pays.
Under Wisconsin's law, only motorcyclists under age 18, or those holding an instructional permit, are required to wear a helmet. In the state last year, 92 percent of those killed in motorcycle crashes were not wearing a helmet.
In fact, CDC research shows that in states that have partial helmet laws -- or no helmet law -- the percentage of those not wearing a helmet in fatal crashes is far higher. When universal helmet laws are enacted, helmet use increases -- and deaths decline. When they are repealed, there is an opposite effect.