Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not wearing your helmet can kill you

Source: "Motorcycle fatalities have risen sharply in Florida since the state repealed its mandatory helmet law."

Sharply is from 515 to 933 killed. As the article points out it is an "81 percent increase". I find a few problems with this.

One, the big bad bikers would follow the law (wear a helmet while riding their motorcycle), but as soon as the law is abolished they would stop wearing their helmet. They have already bought the helmet, so there is no additional cost for the riders. Is the threat of a ticket really enough to convince people to wear a safety device? I know that the threat of the ticket for not wearing a seat belt does not change my behavior at all. If anything, it decrease the chance I will wear a seat belt.

Two, what if there was an increase in the number of motorcycles on the road. Gas prices have only risen during the study. So more (inexperienced) bikers, are on the roads. Secondly, the main people I know who ride bikes are old people, who have slow reflexes.

Also, the study did not study to see if motorcycle deaths rose in states whose laws remained unchanged.

For me it really comes down to not relating to the psychology that is assumed in the study.

cube

5 comments:

Dave Justus said...

You said: "Also, the study did not study to see if motorcycle deaths rose in states whose laws remained unchanged."

The article you linked to says: "Nationally, fatalities increased nearly 8 percent to 4,008 in 2004, the first time they have surpassed 4,000 deaths since 1987."

Pretty compelling evidence that states that reduced these laws will see more deaths.

I support repeal of these laws, I think people should be able to make their own choices about what risks are acceptable to them. That doesn't mean I don't have to pretend that certain behaviors are not riskier, and that legal status of those risks won't effect people choices though.

Cubicle said...

Aggreated numbers don't really mean as much as you are saying. They are counting the same numbers twice. Once in the FL study and then once in the national study.

I would want the states that have not changed broken out to see if the their were changes in their death rate.

The article qouted a lot of studies, mixed and matched data. Basically I felt overwhlemed with the line they were giving which makes me supisious of the date they were using.

Nothing in the article covered motorcycle usage stats...If their are more motorcycles then thier are going to be more deaths, which I already covered that.

Cubicle said...

"that legal status of those risks won't effect people choices though."

See I doubt that also. But that is based entirely on how I view the law and risk, which may not be how the rest of socity views the risk.

Dave Justus said...

You arn't following me. If nationaly fatalities increased by 8% and in FL they increased by 81% (and the other 2 states that struck down helmet laws also had dramatic increase) then it seems pretty clear unless you can think of another good reason why these 3 states are so different from the national average that repeal of helmet laws have a dramatic effect.

Your hypothesis about gas prices or distain for the law would seem to apply nationally, so they don't explain the disparity in FL.

Now it is remotely possible, although highly unlikely I think, that Some states had dramatic increased in deaths and other states had dramatic declines in deaths leading to a reletively stable national average and that the 3 states that repealed helmet laws just happened to be in the dramatic increase category. State by state data would let us rule out that possibility. However, that seems like a very remote possibility to me.

Also, wearing a helmet or not, unlike a seat belt, is very visible to passing cops. As it is far easier to enforce, I would expect that legal status of helmets has a bigger effect then legal status of seatbelts.

Cubicle said...

"....then it seems pretty clear unless you can think of another good reason why these 3 states are so different from the national average that repeal of helmet laws have a dramatic effect."

All three states have longer summers and warmer weather. I know sometimes you can nearly ride a motorcycle during the winter in TN.


"Your hypothesis about gas prices or distain for the law would seem to apply nationally, so they don't explain the disparity in FL."

Yes but in southeren areas, as I have already mentioned, the summer is long, so the higher gas prices could have a greated affect in those areas.

Secondly, An 8 percent increase nation wide could be explained by more motorcycle's.


The specific increase in FL could be explained by an increase in the accident rate.

The addicent rate could have increase because of warmer weather, higher gas prices, and more motorcycles on the road.

Which I am courious if the accident rate increase in FL, or just the death rate. If both the accident rate inceased and the Death rate, then I would think the law had no effect, but if it was just the death rate, then the law proably was a good thing.