Motorcycle Helmet Healthcare Policy in Illinois

Overview

Healthcare legislation enables the government to improve public health, implement disease control, and promote healthy lifestyles. Healthcare policies address various issues related to chronic conditions, birth control, healthy living, aging, patient safety, and the like. Nursing practitioners play a significant role in the development of effective regulations as they are often the professionals who identify the most burning problems (Westrick, 2013).

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Moreover, advanced practice nurses participate in the process of lawmaking through their advocacy. These healthcare professionals address policymakers directly or draw public attention to numerous issues with the help of nurse associations. One of the primary goals of nursing practitioners is achieving the best patient health outcomes through the provision of high-quality services and advocacy. Nurses also carry out researches that contribute to the development of effective practices, strategies, and policies addressing a plethora of issues. This paper includes a brief discussion of the introduction of a new motorcycle helmet policy in Illinois.

Burning Healthcare Policy Concern

The rate of accidents on American roads is rather high and showing a steady increase in the past five years (Phillips et al., 2016). In Illinois, only 45,5% of motorcyclists wear helmets, which contributes to a high number of head injuries and fatalities (Illinois Department of Transportation [IDOT], 2016). It is noteworthy that the most vulnerable group is people between 10 and 26 when it comes to motorcycle accidents although other age groups are also affected (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], 2017). According to NHTSA (2017), motor vehicle crashes were the leading death cause in this population in 2015.

Therefore, it is clear that adolescents and young adults need most attention when developing motorcycle helmet laws. Some US states have the corresponding policies, which has a beneficial outcome manifested in the reduced fatality rate among the age groups mentioned above (Hothem et al., 2017). Illinois does not have mandatory motorcycle helmet laws for any age groups. The lack of legislature can account (at least, partially) for the high rate of fatalities and severe head injuries related to motorcycle accidents.

Solution to the Health Concern

Proposed Law and Associated Measures

Lee (2018) emphasizes that the introduction of mandatory laws is instrumental in decreasing motorcycle fatalities. It was found that this legislation implementation and enforcement led to the reduction of motorcycle fatalities by 20.5% in Texas and Florida (Lee, 2018). Sharma and Verma (2017) argue that motorcycle helmet laws and policies can be effective if accompanied by effective law enforcement measures. Hence, the development of a universal mandatory motorcycle helmet law should be developed and launched in Illinois to address the problem of motor vehicle fatalities and severe head injuries. This law would require wearing a helmet when riding a motor vehicle irrespective of age or health insurance status. Both riders and occupants would be required to wear a helmet.

As has been mentioned above, law enforcement is a central premise that can ensure the effectiveness of the law. Automated enforcement can be a key element of the necessary enforcement. For instance, speed cameras, self-enforcing speed limits, specific road designs preventing speeding, speed-limiting devices can be effective measures as they have proved to lead to positive outcomes in different US states (Sharma & Verma, 2017). In addition to these law enforcement practices, it is essential to launch an educational and promotional campaign that would ensure the compliance with the introduced laws.

In order to foster the implementation of the policy, it is essential to inform people about the existing automated enforcement measures such as radars and cameras. People’s compliance with regulations increases with the increased awareness of the implemented practices and measures (Sharma & Verma, 2017). The primary channels can be road signs, press releases, and social media. The information concerning the new law should also be provided to K-12 and college students, so incorporation of this policy into the curriculum can be beneficial. Apart from informing people, it is vital to encourage them to comply with the new policy.

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A wide-scale campaign promoting safe riding and wearing helmets is necessary. People should be encouraged to wear helmets as it is responsible, safe, fashionable, and simply a must for a modern adolescent or adult. The collaboration with developers of helmets can be effective as they can produce fashionable helmets. The healthcare setting is also appropriate for fostering helmet wearing. Posters and other visual can be displayed in healthcare facilities. Patients of acute care facilities especially those with traumas can be provided with the corresponding leaflets.

Most Probable Challenges

One of the major challenges to the implementation of this policy would be people’s opposition to paternalism. It can be argued that individuals’ autonomy is significantly limited due to the requirement to wear helmets. Opponents will stress that their actions do not harm anyone, so there is no need for such strict measures as motorcycle helmet laws. Nevertheless, safety promotion and encouraging people to be responsible through education and training can help in addressing this obstacle. Another challenge could be the lack of resources as this law enforcement will require the implementation of a promotional and educational campaign involving educational and healthcare settings. The assessment of funds allocation can help in identifying some sources of funding.

Possible Positive Outcomes

It is also important to identify measurable actions demonstrating positive outcomes if the proposed solution was implemented. The research focusing on the rate of fatalities and severe head injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents should be implemented. The reduction of fatalities and severe injuries rates could be regarded as positive outcomes of the law. The increased rate of people wearing motorcycle helmets can also be seen as a positive outcome.

The data from road cameras and surveys involving self-reports can be used to measure these rates. The research concerning people’s awareness of the law provisions and benefits of motorcycle helmets wearing should be carried out. The increase in people’s awareness of this matter can also signify that the law and associated measures are effective.

Elected Official to Be Addressed

In order to effectively advocate for patients’ needs and the improvement of public health, nurses should address officials who are involved in policymaking. As for the proposed policy, it is possible to address Senator Julie A. Morrison (29th District). Some of the Senator Morrison’s committee assignments are Oversight Medicaid Managed Care and Transportation (Illinois General Assembly, 2018). This official is selected due to her interest in both transportation and health care as well as her experience in developing the corresponding policies. This senator has been involved in the development of several laws and policies related to health care.

This experience will be essential for developing and implementing the new law. Furthermore, Senator Morrison is a Democrat, so she is likely to pay significant attention to the implementation of the law that will be beneficial for all groups including underprivileged populations. This is especially critical for the effective implementation of the educational component of the proposed policy. Educational establishments and healthcare facilities located in underprivileged communities may require additional funding to contribute to the policy compliance.

Conclusion

On balance, it is necessary to note that the introduction of a new motorcycle helmet law in Illinois will have a positive impact on public health in the state. It will be instrumental in reducing the rate of fatalities and severe head injuries associated with motorcycle riding in the state. The compliance with this law will be fostered in different ways. Such law enforcement measures as automated enforcement and wide educational campaigns will encourage people to wear helmets.

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There are certain concerns regarding the law opponents’ focus on autonomy and the lack of resources to fund the educational and law enforcement components. However, these challenges can be addressed through the assessment of existing fund allocation practices as well as the focus on the promotion of responsibility.

The target population includes adolescents and young adults so the K-12 and college settings will be involved. Healthcare facilities will play an important role in the promotional campaign as nurses will educate patients especially those with traffic-related traumas. Finally, a Democrat senator will be addressed to ensure the development and implementation of the new policy. It is necessary to note that this project will require a significant investment of the nursing professional’s time and effort. Nevertheless, this activity is one of the ways to provide high-quality care and advocate for patient safety as well as overall improvement of public health.

References

Hothem, Z., Simon, R., Barnes, W., Mohammad, A., Sevak, S., Ziegler, K., … Janczyk, R. (2017). Effects of repealing the motorcycle helmet law in Michigan. The American Journal of Surgery, 214(3), 407-412.

Illinois Department of Transportation. (2016). 2015 Highway safety program annual evaluation report. Web.

Illinois General Assembly. (2018). Senator Julie A. Morrison (D). Web.

Lee, J. (2018). Mandatory helmet legislation as a policy tool for reducing motorcycle fatalities: Pinpointing the efficacy of universal helmet laws. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 111, 173-183.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2017). USDOT releases 2016 fatal traffic crash data. Web.

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Phillips, J., Overton, T., Campbell-Furtick, M., Simon, K., Duane, T., Gandhi, R., & Shafi, S. (2016). Trends in helmet use by motorcycle riders in the decades following the repeal of mandatory helmet laws. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 24(4), 452-458.

Sharma, V., & Verma, V. (2017). The Role of Law in Preventing Accidents. Journal of Bone and Joint Diseases, 32(2), 1-4.

Westrick, S. J. (2013). Essentials of nursing law and ethics (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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