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Mom refuses to wear motorcycle helmet

DEAR AMY: How can I persuade my motorcycle-riding mom to wear a helmet? She wears an armored leather jacket and other protective gear, but she says a helmet is too inconvenient and takes away from the joy of riding. She says that if anything happens to her, I'll be well provided for. Even if that's true, I want my mom around for a long time. Could you give me an answer that I could show her?

-- Terrified

DEAR TERRIFIED: Worse, perhaps, even than dying from a motorcycle accident would be the prospect of your mother surviving a motorcycle crash with a traumatic brain injury.

No amount of providing for your family in advance could possibly prepare family members for the years of devastation (not to mention expense) in caring for a family member with a traumatic brain injury.

I checked statistics compiled from more than 100,000 motorcycle crashes published in 2009 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pubs/811208.pdf). Share this chilling report with your mom. As motorcycle helmet laws change and are relaxed from state to state, statistics show that deaths and injuries from crashes rise proportionally.

From another NHTSA report titled "Motorcycle Safety Program": "While 20 percent of passenger vehicle crashes result in injury or death, an astounding 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death."

Motorcycle crashes and fatalities are rising each year, with the most dramatic increase being in the over-40 age group. Helmet use is directly related to fatalities and brain injuries requiring long-term medical care.

I hope your mother has purchased not only life insurance but also long-term care insurance.

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