We are fortunate that New Mexico weather allows for motorcycle riding just about all year long. Still, there is a riding season and that season is fast approaching. When Bike Week begins in Daytona Beach, Florida, riders hit the road in force nationwide, which includes greater Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
For those involved in a motorcycle accident, head injuries have long been the most significant risk.
Now a recent report by Reuters contends motorcycle passengers are less likely to wear a helmet compared to motorcycle operators, and are thus more likely to suffer serious head injuries. The study, which involved 80,000 motorcycle operators and 6,000 passengers, found about two-thirds of operators were wearing a helmet, compared to just over half of passenger riders.
However, it’s also worth noting that the study concluded passengers were at greater risk of head injuries, with or without a helmet, compared to motorcycle operators.
Helmet Use, Head Injuries, and New Mexico Law
In the 1970s, virtually every state in the nation required riders to wear helmets. But that changed in 1976 when states successfully lobbied Congress to stop financial penalties for states without helmet laws. Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports 20 states currently require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, while other states only require helmets for minors or don’t require them at all.
New Mexico helmet law requires only underage riders to wear a helmet. Each of the surrounding states has a similar partial helmet law, with Texas requiring helmet use for riders under the age of 20.
Fault and Liability in Albuquerque Motorcycle Accidents
The vast majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the rider. In cases where another vehicle is involved, the vehicle driver is at fault more than half the time. Besides other drivers, riders face all manner of road risks. In one of the more unusual cases recently, the Albuquerque Journal reported a motorcyclist crashed after a trailer lost dozens of pallets in the roadway.
Still, wearing a helmet is a legal choice in New Mexico. An experienced motorcycle injury attorney will be prepared for any contention of contributory negligence in head injury cases involving riders who have legally chosen not to wear a helmet. In far too many cases, motorcycle operators are wrongly blamed for accidents. Independent review and investigation may reveal other causes or parties who are responsible for seriously or fatally injuring a motorcyclist or his passenger.