Motorcycle Helmets

I have always wanted a motorcycle. There is something alluring about cruising around with the wind in your hair and the open road in front of you. What has stopped me from getting said motorcycle is fear. Fear of crashing and the subsequent injuries that come along with it.

Inexplicably not every state in the US requires helmets to be worn while riding a motorcycle. Currently only 19 states require helmets. 19!!!! What on earth are the other 31 waiting for? Is it even arguable that wearing helmets makes a difference?

The government estimates that the US could have saved $1.5 billion if people were wearing helmets when they were in an accident. The CDC has noted that in states where there is an option on helmets, helmet use goes down and deaths go up. 2012 saw close to 5,000 motorcycle deaths, a 9% increase from 2011.

With all of this being said Michigan decided to repeal their helmet law last year, requiring only those under 21 to wear one. Want to guess what happened?

For the two years prior to the change the average medical claim for a motorcycle injury was $5140. After the change…$7,257, a 34% increase.

Now look I am sure that the vice president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is a really nice guy but what he says here is just ridiculous. The vice president dismissed the study, saying the insurance industry views helmets as ‘‘the silver bullet that’s going to change the landscape of motorcycle safety.’’ He said insurers are upset because ‘‘ life has gotten more expensive for them and they have to pay out more.’’

First off if I was an insurance company and I had to pay out more because you didn’t want to wear a helmet, I would be ripped…never mind upset!

As a chiropractor, I have seen the devastating effects that closed head injuries cause. These injuries could have been avoided or at the very least a lot less severe if the people had been wearing helmets.

If you are riding a motorcycle this summer or thinking of getting one, please, please, please wear a helmet. Your loved ones and even your insurance company will thank you for it!

Auto Insurance Fraud

As a chiropractor part of my job is taking care of people whom have been in auto accidents. As I have written about before, being in a car accident  is one of the most damaging events you can put your spine through and people whom have been in one legitimately need care.

There is a dark underside to these accidents that a lot of people are not aware of.  Let’s say you are the driver of a car that rear ends the car in front of you.  That person could sue you for injuries sustained in this accident. How bad do they have to be hurt to sue you? Much less than you may think.

Here is where it gets ugly.

The possibility of financial gain has led people to staging accidents. How does this work? You put 6-8 people in a car and pay someone to hit it. The “victims” go to a doctor like myself and run up bills of at least $2,000. That triggers a threshold that allows them to sue the person that hit them. The “victims” ask for a small enough amount that the insurance company settles with them in order to avoid long term litigation.

You may ask, “If it is a small enough amount who really cares?”  Not a bad question if it was occasional, however, when this happens hundreds and thousands of  times a day, the money becomes very real, very quick.

Here in Massachusetts, a 65 year old woman died in a stage auto accident in 2003 in Lawrence which at that time was known as the auto insurance fraud capital of Massachusetts.

The Lawrence police joined forces with a fraud bureau and went to work on steadily reducing auto insurance losses with the thought being they would be able to reduce the amount of insurance premiums that you and I pay.

Were they successful? Were they ever! The crackdown led to charges being filed against 488 people in Lawrence. 488 in Lawrence alone!! That is crazy!

Here is where it gets good. The average auto insurance premium in Lawrence was $1613 in 2003. Today it is $1260! Collectively across the state there has been a $266 million reduction in claims dollars statewide.

Why This is So Important

When there is a lot of fraud, the innocent people get swept up in the mess. The patients that were hurt in legitimate accidents were being treated as if they were guilty of fraud.  The honest doctors and lawyers were getting hammered trying to help people that actually needed it.

As these task forces continue to do their work of reducing fraud, the honest people are going to benefit by getting both the health and legal help that they need.


Winter snowstorm on Highway 11, near Temagami,...
Image via Wikipedia

I had to be in Medford at 7:30 am Sunday morning (don’t ask!) and I have to tell you, the first 15 minutes of that ride I was terrified.  Route 62 was a sheet of black ice.  In the 23+ years that I have been driving I had never felt more helpless than I was Sunday morning.  Thankfully, people had realized the situation and I didn’t  see anyone driving more than 5 mph and most people were using their hazards.

I noticed that any quick movements resulted in near total loss of control of the car.  The slower and more gentle I drove the better control I had.  With that in mind let’s go through some tips on how to drive on ice/snow and tomorrow we will go over what to do if you have been in an accident.

Become a weather person

The very first mistake that I made was not checking the weather.  I was caught off guard and therefore surprised when the car skidded.  Whenever possible, especially when traveling earlier in the morning, check the weather to avoid surprises.

Car Tips

How are the tires on your car?  Starting to bald a bit?  If so, get them changed and quick.  Consider going with a snow tire, you will appreciate the extra grip.  How about the windshield, is it nice and clear?  Rain-x makes a great product that you spray on your windshield creating a film that will keep it clear.

ABS is standard on most cars these days, which is awesome, however, you need to know how to drive and more importantly stop with this technology.  Most drivers who have been in accidents with ABS report that they panicked when they felt the brake pedal shaking and took their foot off the pedal.  When the brake pedal pulsates it is doing its job!!!  By taking your foot off the brake pedal, you are actually defeating the technology.  The other part about ABS is the ability for you to steer your way out of trouble.

Driving Technique

Ever hear the expression a little goes a long way?  When driving on ice, no truer words have ever been spoken.  In a lot of cases, the wheels will grip at some point, now if you have oversteered the car, when those tires grip your car will

head in that direction.  If that direction is traffic or a telephone pole, you are in trouble.

It is also vital to plan ahead.  Since we know that sudden movements on ice can result in loss of control, if you know where you are going you can anticipate corners, hills and tricky intersections.  By slowly accelerating or decelerating you can keep yourself out of having to make sudden movements.

Look to Safety

Here is a tip worth it’s weight in Gold…Nascar drivers know that where you are looking is where you will go, this is how they can drive so close to the wall without hitting it, they never look at it.  When you are in a skid, look at where you want to go as opposed to that tree in front of you!  Trust me it works!

Tomorrow I will cover what you need to do once you have been in an accident.

Are there any tips you can share with us on how to drive on ice?  Please comment below.

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