How much do motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injuries? A lot, UK study shows

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It goes without saying that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries while riding a motorcycle, but a study at the University of Kentucky backs it up with hard numbers.

Motorcycle helmets “are associated with a 69 percent reduction in skull fractures, 71 percent reduction in cerebral contusion, and 53 percent reduction in intracranial hemorrhage,” and “a 20 percent reduction in cerebral concussion,” says a release from the UK College of Public Health.

Dr. Michael Singleton, an assistant professor of biostatistics, examined accident data to compare helmet protection against skull fracture, cerebral contusion, intracranial hemorrhage and cerebral concussions of motorcycle operators, and hospital billings from 2008 to 2012, to estimate the relative risks of each type of head injury for helmeted versus unprotected motorcyclists.

Kentucky once had a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, but the legislature repealed it at the behest of state Sen. Dam Seum, a Republican from Louisville.

Though there was little doubt that wearing a helmet increases safety, Singleton said helmeted motorcycle operators may still be at risk. “Current motorcycle helmets do not protect equally against all types of head injury,” he said.

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