NH State Police Commander: Helmets Help Save Motorcyclists Lives
Over two dozen motorcyclsts have died on New Hampshire roads in 2022, but a helmet law could help bring that number down, according to State Police Capt. Christopher Vetter, commander of the state Office of Highway Safety.
That's a 66% increase over 2021, according to Vetter.
The most recent death was Kevin Komosa, 41, of Whatley, Massachusetts, who was driving a motorcycle Saturday night on the Spaulding Turnpike Connector in Rochester near the northbound exit 16 off-ramp from Route 16. He succumbed to his injuries Sunday. His passenger, Ashley Culver, 28, of Buckland, Massachusetts, remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
Most of the crashes do not involve cars, and are caused by many of the same factors that can lead to vehicle crashes, according to Vetter, a 30-year State Police veteran.
"We're talking about distraction, we're certainly talking about speed, and we're talking about impairment. Those are the things that are causing the crashes," Vetter said.
But the one thing that people could do to be prepared in the event of a crash is to wear a helmet. Over half of motorcyclists involved in crashes in New Hampshire don't wear a helmet.
Don't Take Your Helmet Off
Vetter said he recalls from his days on patrol watching motorcycles pull into the Seabrook rest area on Interstate 95 to do two things: use the bathroom, and put their helmet away.
"We know the best thing you can do in a motorcycle crash is to wear a motorcycle helmet," Vetter said. "Not everyone is doing everything that they can do to put themselves in the best position for when they are in a crash, a crash that can't be avoided."
New Hampshire does not have a law requiring the use of a helmet while riding a motorcycle or a seatbelt in a vehicle. Vetter supports making both mandatory in New Hampshire, but doesn't expect that to change anytime soon.
"We can't get a seat belt law passed. Of 50 states, 49 of them have a seatbelt law of some sort, whether a primary or secondary. New Hampshire is the only state in the country that has no adult seatbelt law. So the idea that we're going to get a helmet law through is probably not realistic," Vetter said.
Vetter said mandatory helmet and seatbelt laws will not save everyone, but it could save the life of someone important to you.
"It might save someone you care about. Somebody I care about. If we save one person who otherwise would not have been saved, wasn't it worth it? I think the answer to that is yes," Vetter said.
Vetter said there are things motorcyclists and drivers of vehicles need to be aware of while on the road.
"People driving motor vehicles need to be aware that motorcycles are more difficult to see in mirrors than a vehicle in their blind spot," Vetter said. "From a motorcycle point of view, be aware of vehicles approaching intersections, make sure that you are seen when changing lanes or entering an intersection."