This winter has been a particularly tough one for Pennsylvanians and people all over the country. Now that it’s finally warming up, several rites of spring are upon us, including Easter, an abundance of robins, and folks wanting to get out and about after several long, cold months spent inside. One way that Pennsylvanians love to get out and enjoy their surroundings is by taking a ride on their motorcycles.

While the freedom of being on a motorcycle is something that many people relish, it is not without its risks. Riders have relatively little protection against being involved in a crash on the highway. Make no mistake, motorcycle accidents can be devastating; across the country, motorcyclists are about 35 times more likely to be killed in a crash than are the occupants of other vehicles.

One of the best ways for riders to protect themselves is to wear a helmet. Study after study shows that helmets save lives and reduce brain injuries to people who are involved in crashes. In Pennsylvania, however, wearing a helmet is not mandatory for most riders; our state repealed its helmet law back in 2003.

In Pennsylvania in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, about half the people who died in motorcycle crashes weren’t wearing helmets. This represents a giant opportunity to improve safety on our highways — even if the wearing of a helmet is voluntary. While not all motorcycle accidents are preventable, many can be survivable if the proper precautions are taken.

Source: The Abington Journal, “Other opinion: Road Safety Pa. motorcyclists at particular risk,” April 9, 2014