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Do helmets cause neck injuries in motorcycle accidents?

The myth that helmets can cause a motorcycle rider’s neck to get broken in a crash has been circulating for years, but you may be wondering if that is really true. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation released a study answering this question for motorcyclists in California and around the country.


While you may have read a few studies that have argued that neck injuries increased when riders were wearing helmets, careful analyzation of these reports plus more recent studies concluded that they may not be correct. First, researchers found that the early studies may have been skewed because unhelmeted riders often died in crashes that were not severe enough to cause significant neck injuries. In fact, around 15 percent of riders without helmets were killed in crashes that caused only minor injuries to other parts of their bodies, such as a scraped knee. Helmeted riders, on the other hand, were more likely to be killed in more serious crashes that caused greater injuries across all parts of the body, including the neck.


Scientists deducted that your only injury risk that increased with helmet wear was damage to the vagus nerve and carotid artery in the carotid sheath. All other injuries, including those to your vertebrates, throat and soft tissues in the neck, were not increased with helmet use.


The results of these findings were strong enough to encourage researchers to recommend universal helmet use as the injuries to the neck were minimal. This information is not meant as legal or medical advice but is intended to educate readers on safe driving practices.



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