Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Winter 2018, Vol. 18, Issue 1


By Meredith Meyer, Undergraduate Student at the University of Michigan; M. Shay O’Mara, MD, MBA, FACS; Joshua Burton, MSN, RN; and Michael L. Lieber, MS


California has a mandatory safety belt law pursuant to Vehicle Code section 27315 and a safety helmet law to pursuant to Vehicle Code section 27803. Seatbelt and helmet use have been well established as effective primary prevention measures. Seatbelt use specifically has been well recognized and accepted as a prevention technique, and 49 of the 50 states have enacted some form of seat belt law.1 There are mandatory seat belt laws in all states except New Hampshire.2 In states with such laws, seat belt use is approaching 80-90%. Helmet use, however, has not been as well accepted in reducing the severity of motorcycle collisions. According to Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA)3, only 19 states have a universal helmet law that requires all riders to wear helmets, not just novices or youth. Ohio does not have a universal helmet law, and it only requires use if the driver is under 18 years of age, has less than one year of experience, or is a passenger of a driver using a helmet.

Prior studies have shown that collisions increase post-collision use of such preventative measures. Knowing why accident victims did not use safety devices in the irst place, however, could lead to a greater understanding of noncompliance and eventually better education and intervention strategies. This study approached patients at a level one trauma center, after involvement in a motor vehicle or motorcycle crash, with a survey that aimed to elucidate why they complied or did not comply with safety measures. We hypothesized that patients admitted to a level one trauma center after a motor vehicle or motorcycle crash will have noncompliance with primary prevention measures (seatbelts and helmets) at a higher rate than the general population, and the reasons for noncompliance will not align with the beneits of prevention.

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