Nevada Cops Sued Over Helmet Law Enforcement

A dozen bikers have sued Clark County, Nev., over enforcement of the state’s helmet law, and the group is seeking class action status for their case.

In a suit was filed this week in U.S. District Court against the county – and five cities within Clark County: Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite and Boulder City, the plaintiffs say helmet law enforcement efforts violate their Fourth Amendment protections from illegal search and seizure, according to the case cited in the Las Vegas Sun

“Defendants, through their agents, have an ongoing pattern and practice of issuing helmet tickets to the class members that are not supported by constitutionally sufficient probable cause, thereby violating the civil rights of the class members,” claims the suit, filed by Las Vegas attorney Travis Barrick.

Previous efforts to repeal Nevada’s helmet law, which was originally enacted in 1972,  have failed, but ff the court certifies the class action status of the suit, it could include more than 40,000 motorcycle riders in Clark County and pose a serious threat to the current helmet law in the state.

Motorcycle Helmet Law Facts ( From A Report Generated by Adam Fitzwater and Hadley Perry )

Motorcycle Fatality Rates

Common sense would seem to dictate that of riders did not wear helmets than more riders would be killed, causing fatality rates to increase. This, however, is not exactly true according to recent evidence. States with no helmet laws actually have a fatality rate lower than that of states with mandatory helmet laws. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, states with voluntary helmet laws as a whole have better rider education programs and better-prepared riders. This education leads to better decisions made by the riders that in turn, reduce accidents and fatalities. The second reason for this fact is the increased number of registrations translated to more bikes on the road. There are in fact more fatalities as a whole, but when compared to the number of registrations, the fatalities per rider are actually less.

The following tables from the Motorcycle Industry Council show that the states with voluntary helmet laws actually do have fewer fatalities per accident, and fewer accidents per motorcycles registered in 1993.

Summary of 1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Registrations Reported Accidents Fatalities Accidents per 10,000 registrations Fatalities per 100 accidents
Mandatory Helmet Use 2,352,293 52,270 1,557 222.21 2.98
Voluntary Helmet Use 1,497,923 29,062 844 194.02 2.90
Total 3,850,216 81,332 2,401 211.24 2.95

Summary of 1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics as a Percentage.

Registrations Reported Accidents Fatalities
Mandatory Helmet Use 61% 64% 65%
Voluntary Helmet Use 39% 36% 35%
Total 100% 100% 100%

1994 Motorcycle Statistical Annual, Motorcycle Industry Council

Death Accident Ratio before and after Helmet Law in Maryland

Year Accidents Deaths DAR
Before Mandatory Helmet Law 1985 3,182 72 2.26%
1986 2,823 84 2.98%
1987 2,328 65 2.79%
1988 2,010 61 3.03%
1989 1,693 46 2.72%
1990 1,714 46 2.68%
1991 1,752 53 3.03%
Total Accidents 15,502
Total Deaths 427
Death Accident Ratio Before Mandatory Helmet Law 2.75%

Year Accidents Deaths DAR
After Mandatory Helmet Law
(1992) 1992 1,417 55 3.88%
1993 985 43 4.37%
1994 1,083 30 2.77%
1995 989 27 2.73%
1996 889 28 3.15%
1997 898 27 3.01%
1998 966 34 3.52%
1999 1,070 46 4.30%
2000 727 52 7.15%
Total Accidents 9, 024
Total Deaths 342
Death Accident Ratio After Mandatory Helmet Law 3.79%

In Maryland, the death rate increased after the mandatory helmet law was introduced.
The Death to Accident Ration (DAR) increases significantly in Maryland after the laws is passed, which means that helmet laws cannot be credited as having the benefits that helmet laws proponents claim. The reason the number of accidents is reduced is because after the mandatory helmet law was passed, fewer people ride, and many of those who continue to ride, ride fewer miles resulting in a decrease in accidents.


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