Crash spurs helmet law discussion - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Crash spurs helmet law discussion

Kristin Widner, a visitor from Purcell, Oklahoma, died at this motorcycle accident scene. Kristin Widner, a visitor from Purcell, Oklahoma, died at this motorcycle accident scene.
Nik Chase Nik Chase
Some people ride without helmets in Hawaii. Some people ride without helmets in Hawaii.
Josh Green Josh Green
Some people ride with helmets in Hawaii. Some people ride with helmets in Hawaii.

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Kristin Widner, a 25 year old visitor from Purcell, Oklahoma, was on a motorcycle with her husband on the Likelike Highway early Friday morning when they were hit by an out of control pick-up truck. The Widners crashed. Kristin was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband was taken to the Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.

At the time police said it was "unknown" if the Widners were wearing helmets.

Hawaii News Now talked with the people at Chase Hawaii Rentals in Waikiki who rented the motorcycle to the Widners.

"I have a lot of remorse for them. It's not even their fault. That's kind of the worst thing about it," General Manager Nik Chase said noting it was the pick-up that caused the collision.

Chase said the Widners took helmets with them when they rented the bikes. And at least one helmet is visible in video taken at the scene of the crash. But police were not sure the helmets were actually in use at the time of the crash.

Kristin Widner's death spurred conservation about Hawaii's helmet law.

Anyone 17 and younger is required to wear a helmet on a motorcycle in Hawaii. But people 18 and older can decide for themselves.

"I think everybody should have their own choice to whether they want to wear one or not. We're a free state still so that's the way it should be I believe," Chase said.

He rides every day. He usually does not wear a helmet when riding at relatively slow speeds through Waikiki and residential neighborhoods. But says he prefers wearing a helmet when he gets on Oahu's freeways and highways.

Helmets come free with motorcycle rentals at Chase Hawaii Rentals. Some customers use them. Others don't. Chase cannot mandate helmet use because they are not required by law.

According to the Centers for Disease Control helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 96%. And, according to the CDC a rider in a crash without a helmet is 40% more likely to be killed than a rider who crashes wearing a helmet.

Josh Green is an emergency room physician and a state senator. He favors mandatory helmet laws.

"A few times a year someone comes into my ER, brains are coming out of their head and they are dead because they didn't have a helmet on," Green said.

"I've never once, never once, taken care of somebody with a severe head trauma that wore a helmet," he added.

At least three bills that would have required helmets failed to pass in the legislature in 2011. Similar bills will likely be introduced again in 2012. If and when they are, riders will testify against them.

"I believe everybody should be able to make their own choice," Chase said.

According to the CDC injuries and deaths in one year from motorcycle crashes in the United States total $12-billion in medical care costs and lost productivity.

 

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