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Our mission is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to injuries, 
through prevention, improved trauma care, and improved rehabilitation.

  "The motorcycle helmet law was the right thing to do and defending it is the right thing to do. It's a no brainer." 

Steve Lambert

April 18, 2003


Motorcycle Helmets--It's a no Brainer!

California resident Steve Lambert  knows the trauma of  injuries sustained from a motorcycle crash and understands the importance of motorcycle helmet laws. In 1981, at age sixteen, Steve was severely injured in a motorcycle crash. Since then he breathes with the assistance of a ventilator and uses a wheelchair. 

In the late 1980s efforts to pass mandatory motorcycle helmet legislation were growing in California. Steve began
directing Survivors for Injury Prevention (SIP), a project linking survivors of severe injury with the injury control community. Working with SIP, he informed the public and elected officials about the proposed motorcycle helmet legislation and the prevention of head injuries caused by motorcycle crashes. He contacted the Independent Living Centers of California, testified at hearings on the bill in Sacramento, gave media interviews and made presentations to the patients and staff of rehabilitation facilities. Steve also worked as an area coordinator with Californians for Safe Motorcycling in efforts to pass AB36 -- the Motorcycle Helmet Law. He was still actively supporting it in 1992 when Governor Pete Wilson signed that legislation into law. 

For the last 3 years, Steve has worked as support staff for employees in the Department of Toxic Substance Control, which is a department within the California Environmental Protection Agency. He feels good that he is able to give back to the society that has supported him since his motorcycle crash. 

An Annual Battle

He also continues to work to keep CA AB36, the Motorcycle Helmet Law, intact because, although helmets have been shown to save lives, reduce injuries, and save public funds, in California and other states where helmet laws are in effect, there is an annual battle to overturn helmet laws. In California this year, AB1200, a bill that would repeal California's motorcycle helmet law, is before the legislature. This new legislation would limit the motorcycle helmet requirement  to persons under 18. Many states have repealed their all-rider laws, "replacing" them with minimum insurance coverage requirements or age-specific laws. The result is that motorcycle helmet deaths are increasing.  Steve plans on being present at the hearing for this bill on April 21st in Sacramento. Steve says, "The motorcycle helmet law was the right thing to do and defending it is the right thing to do. It's a no brainer." 

Recent studies bear this out: 

In an examination of motorcycle crash victims at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center from July 1, 2000 through December 31, 2000 after the repeal of Florida motorcycle helmet law, researchers discovered that before the repeal there were 52 cases evaluated at the center in comparison with 94 after the law change. While helmet usage decreased from 1999 (83%) to 2000 (56%), brain injuries during this time increased from 18 to 35 while the number of fatalities increased from 2 to 8. (Journal of Trauma, March 2002, Hotz et al.
"The impact of a repealed motorcycle helmet law in Miami-Dade County.") 

A  Maryland study explored the impact of that state's 1992 all rider helmet law. The study examined motorcycle fatalities statewide occurring during a comparable 33-month period just before and following the law's enactment. This study found that the fatality rate dropped from 10.3 per 10,000 registered motorcycles before the law to 4.5 after the law, despite almost identical numbers in motorcycle registration. Motorcyclists who wore helmets also had a lower risk of traumatic brain injury than those who did not wear helmets. (Am J Public Health Aug 2002, Auman et al. "Autopsy study of motorcyclist fatalities: the effect of the 1992 Maryland Motorcycle helmet use law.") 

We say NO! to those who want to repeal the state law that has saved so many lives. Good public policy saves lives, pain and suffering.....and taxpayer dollars. California's motorcycle helmet law went into effect in January, 1992. Let's make sure our lawmakers keep it! 

For more information see:

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety