Experts Weigh-In on Helmets and Best Practices to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

After 40-year-old Marion resident Matthew Dunkel died last Saturday in a motorcycle accident, we looked at some ways to prevent future accidents.

You’ve commented a lot about whether more should be done to prevent motorcycle-related deaths.

Many of you are motivated by a strong reaction to the  of 40-year-old Marion resident . Many of you are bikers yourselves and would like to see drivers give more space, while some are curious drivers whom just don’t know exactly how they are supposed to drive around bikes.

So, I’ve made some calls, done some research, and I’ll outline a few tips and approaches for motorcycle safety.


In Michigan, there’s currently a bill sitting on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk to make it legal again in Michigan to drive a motorcycle without a helmet.

Many emergency doctors and insurance companies in the state are against it and refer to studies that show that helmets reduce fatalities in motorcycle accidents by 47 percent.

Dunkel, the Marion man killed last Saturday in a motorcycle accident, was not wearing a helmet.

Additionally, Iowa is one of three states that don’t have any motorcycle helmet laws.

That’s why Robert Hogg, an Iowa State Senator from Cedar Rapids, co-sponsored a bill earlier this year to mandate helmets for teenage motorcycle and moped riders, which didn’t make it past the committee.

"I think, at least for kids, by god, we should be able to pass a law so they don’t die needlessly," he said.

Though he believes the issue is different for adults, he said he would consider a bill mandating helmets for adults because he’s seen strong evidence that they save lives.

But he said strong lobbying from interest groups like ABATE Iowa, which has a political committee, makes passing a law mandating helmets for children or adults politically impossible.

He said they have widespread support in both parties in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature, which is what stopped his bill from moving forward. 

When asked whether cyclist should wear helmets, Abate Iowa State Coordinator, Phil McCormick said he advises people to wear helmets "if you feel like you are going to crash."

Instead of wearing helmets, McCormick said motorcycle drivers should pay close attention to their surroundings.

Safe Practices

But aside from the ongoing, controversial argument as to whether or not helmets should be mandated, here are some tips for motorcyclists and drivers so we can better "share the road."

  • McCormick said drivers should give at least two seconds worth of distance between the driver and the biker.

  • If you are driving a car and passing a motorcycle driver, make sure you have enough distance so when you merge lanes you don’t accidentally cut them off.

  • When driving a car and you stop at a stop sign, don’t look twice, look three times, as McCormick said bikes are smaller and quicker than cars and can be easily missed.

  • Motorcyclists should wear some pieces of bright clothing to make them more visible to drivers, both in day and at night.  

  • Bikers can buy modulating headlights, which also increase visibility.

  • McCormick encouraged both car and motorcycle drivers to take educational classes. Motorcycle safety classes are offered at in Cedar Rapids.

Sharon Ingram March 31, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Helmets....seatbelts. What's the difference when it comes to kids? A possible crash isn't the only reason to wear a helmet. Have you been hit by a June bug while going 70 mph? Been hit by a rock thrown up by the car passing you, been stuck behind a cattle or pig hauler for miles? Been hit by a pheasant that was startled and flushed out when you rode by? Hail? Cigarette thrown out of the car in front of you?
Nadrich Cohen September 06, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Helmets should be a must when riding, like super illegal if not worn. http://www.personalinjurylawcal.com/sitemap.php


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