The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Wisconsin needs universal helmet law

Wisconsin law does not require any motorcycle user over the age of 18 to wear a helmet, but it should. In 2022, there were 1,921 motorcycle crashes in Wisconsin. 1,606 of those people were injured and 80 of them died. 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation only states that operators and passengers are “strongly urged” to wear protective gear. Only those under 18 and people with instruction permits are required by law to wear a helmet. 

However, I think Wisconsin needs to extend that requirement to all motorcycle operators. The National Safety Council found that in 2021, motorcycle crashes accounted for 14% of traffic fatalities. 

I’ve seen the terrible repercussions of motorcycle crashes firsthand. I had a friend whose mom was involved in a motorcycle accident. Her back was broken and over several years, she underwent around six surgeries. 

Her spine hasn’t been the same since.

My uncle is part of a biker gang and he’ll let the little kids ride on the back of his bike with him. Normally, we only go around the neighborhood or a couple of blocks, but no matter what, we always have to wear a helmet. He and the rest of my family constantly tell us to be smart and protect our heads.

There’s a rule in my family: “Always wear a helmet on a motorcycle and only ride with people you trust.” We’ve all known people who weren’t safe.  

Wisconsin’s government should implement a universal motorcycle helmet law. This means that anyone who sits on a motorcycle, whether old or young, driver or passenger, new rider or veteran, must wear a helmet.  

A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that states with universal laws had lower medical charges and fewer face and brain injuries. The CDC reports that helmets are 69% effective in reducing the risk of head injuries. 

If we require football players to wear helmets, why aren’t we requiring motorcyclists? In one activity, the most danger is another human, while in the other you risk meeting the asphalt at 70 miles per hour. 

One of the most common reasons for not wearing a helmet is a lack of comfort. The weight of a helmet, some difficulty breathing or neck pain were all labeled as causes in a study shared through the National Library of Medicine. This is not a good enough reason to reject helmets altogether. 

There are several types of helmets ranging in size, density, coverage and overall style. Go out to the store and try them on, figure out what works best for you. 

There are also some requirements and checks in place to help riders find the safest helmets. There are labels located on the back of some helmets showing that this particular make and model is compliant with the Department of Transportation.  

Be on the lookout for unsafe helmets. Some dangerous practices include thin helmets (less than one inch thick), no chin protection and are unreasonably light. Most federally recognized helmets weigh around three pounds. 

Wisconsin state government should adopt a universal helmet law as soon as possible. It’ll reduce medical charges in the state, but most importantly it’ll protect our citizens. Motorcycle riders throughout Wisconsin should adopt safe helmet practices by investing in a quality helmet.  

Motorcycles are a rich part of Wisconsin history since the founding of Harley-Davidson in 1903. We should celebrate and enjoy the freedom and joy these bikes give us, but we need to do our part to protect ourselves. By being safe, we can be around longer to appreciate motorcycles. 

This story was written by Izzy Fonfara Drewel. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Izzy Fonfara Drewel
Izzy Fonfara Drewel, Production Director
Izzy Fonfara Drewel is a senior from Papillion, Nebraska majoring in journalism with a double minor in music and Spanish. This school year she will be serving as the Production Director. In previous years, she made her home on the Arts & Entertainment desk as the Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor, and she was the Executive Opinions Editor last year. Outside of the Wire, Izzy plays the trumpet in the Marquette University Bands and spends her free time trying new restaurants and playing card games with her friends. She is excited to pilot this position this year and build a strong staff that is confident in their abilities.

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