California is one of 19 states with “universal” helmet laws. This means that all motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a helmet, regardless of their age. This law is common sense, and most riders in California always wear a helmet as a matter of course.

That being said, there are many motorcyclists who refuse to wear a helmet despite the law. It is often seen as a matter of personal freedom. If you are among this group, you are certainly entitled to your beliefs. But in today’s post, we’d like to discuss three reasons why choosing to wear a helmet is the smartest idea any rider can make.

Reason 1: The personal safety benefits are indisputable

According to the World Health Organization, wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces your risk of severe injury by 70 percent and reduces your risk of death by 40 percent.

Even if you are a skilled and careful rider, you can’t control the behavior of other motorists on the road. But you can control your risks of serious injury or death if an accident does occur.

Reason 2: Injury and fatality statistics nationwide are overwhelming

A national analysis of motorcycle crashes from 2009 through 2013 clearly shows the benefits of wearing a helmet. The analysis found that riders who didn’t wear a helmet were 2.8 times more likely to be killed in a crash and 1.4 times more likely to suffer serious injury.

In the late 1960s and throughout most of the 70s, nearly every state had a universal helmet law. Since then, many states have chosen to weaken or repeal helmet laws altogether. In states where laws were weakened or repealed, it didn’t take long for helmet use to decline and for motorcycle death and injury rates to shoot up accordingly.

Reason 3: Not wearing a helmet could reduce a jury award in a personal injury suit

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver, you will likely be able to seek damages regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet. But the amount of damages you receive could be limited if it is determined that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to the severity of your injuries (but did not cause the accident itself).

Riding a motorcycle can come with a great sense of freedom. But please don’t let that freedom cause you to overlook your responsibility to yourself and to those you love. Wearing a helmet is the best way to protect your health and your life.