Injury Prevention

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that helmet use decreases fatalities in motorcycle accidents and those riders that wore helmets saved society economic costs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riders killed in motorcycle crashes accounted for 14 percent of all road traffic deaths. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Laws that require some motorcycle riders, generally those 17 and younger, to wear helmets are in place in 28 states. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a breakdown of specific populations covered by helmet laws per state. Partial helmet laws generally require younger riders to wear helmets and may exempt helmet use for some low power cycles.  

Earlier this summer, I wrote about a brewing court fight over a new Florida law that physicians claimed had the practical effect of banning them from discussing gun ownership and safety with their patients and, in the case of pediatricians, with their patients’ parents.

Principals for each side characterized their position as protection of a constitutional right – free speech for the physicians and the right to bear arms for the state defense team and other guns rights advocates.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke declared that the law violated the First Amendment rights of doctors and patients. The judge granted a temporary injunction of the law, including the $10,000 fine that could be levied against violating physicians.

A controversial new law in Florida has prompted doctors to go to court to overturn what they call a gag on any discussion of gun ownership with patients.

The Miami Herald reports that U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke is expected to rule later this summer following a hearing on July 13.

“What I need to determine, is the legislation itself an unconstitutional burden on speech?” Cooke said during a Miami federal court hearing. “What can’t you do now that you could do before?”

With the recent federal policy change allowing use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, there is renewed focus on cost-effective public health syringe services programs to prevent HIV and hepatitis C infections and to reduce disparities. State law modifications to allow syringe services programs are described.