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Oct. 13 2009 - 11:50 am | 18 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Donorcycles: Ride helmetless. The life you save won’t be your own.

A panned shot of a motor cycle

Image via Wikipedia

Solve one problem, create another. Sure, helmets reduce motorcycle fatalities. But what about those poor people who need hearts and livers and kidneys from the people who die riding helmetless?

One study (PDF) dares to ask:

Government traffic safety mandates are typically designed to reduce the harmful externalities of risky behaviors.  We consider whether motorcycle helmet laws also reduce a beneficial externality by decreasing the pool of viable organ donors.  Our central estimates show that organ donations due to motor vehicle fatalities increase by 10 percent when states repeal helmet laws. Two characteristics of this association suggest that it is causal: first, nearly all of it is concentrated among men, who account for over 90 percent of all motorcyclist deaths, and second, helmet mandates are unrelated to organ donations due to circumstances other than motor vehicle accidents.  Our estimates imply that every death of a helmetless motorcyclist prevents or delays as many as 0.33 deaths among individuals on organ transplant waiting lists.

Ride helmetless. The life you save won’t be your own.

HT: Marginal Revolution

Follow Neuroworld on Twitter: @ryansager


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  1. collapse expand

    This is supposed to be sarcastic, right?

    You’re saying “Think how many lives could be saved if these patients could get organs. And if motorcyclists didn’t wear helmets, more organs would available to save lives! In fact, it only takes 3 dead motorcyclists to save one transplant patient!”

    “Ride helmetless. The life you save won’t be your own.”
    Does this sound crazy to anyone else? I own a motorcycle and I’m a donor, but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to unload these good organs as soon as I can. I LIKE having my organs and being alive in general. I’m not going to risk my life going helmetless just so I can have a ONE IN THREE SHOT of saving someone, unlike the one-to-one ratio the author suggests here.

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    I'm a freelance writer and blogger based in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in politics. I've worked on the editorial boards of the New York Sun and New York Post. In 2006, I wrote a book, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley). I've also done my share of freelancing, for places like the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Reason, and RealClearPolitics.

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