June 13, 2008

Pa. Helmet Law Repeal Means More Injuries

Serious head injuries have increased in Pennsylvania since the state repealed its motorcycle helmet law, a University of Pittsburgh study found.

By analyzing discharge data from acute-care hospitals before and after the repeal, researchers found a 32 percent increase in head injury deaths and a 42 percent increase in head injury hospitalizations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday. The non-head injury death rate did not change.

Pennsylvania largely repealed its law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets in 2005. Currently, riders are required to wear helmets if they are under age 21, have less than two years of experience and have not taken a safety course.

Researchers said they found the number of motorcyclists hospitalized with head injuries requiring further care at facilities specializing in rehabilitation and long-term care jumped 87 percent after the helmet law was changed. Total acute care hospital charges stemming from motorcycle-related head injuries rose 132 percent, they said.

Acute care hospital charges totaled $53.5 million in 2001 and 2002, compared to $124.2 million for 2004 and 2005.