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Fatal Freedom

Fatal Freedom?
Deaths from motorcycle crashes on the rise
By: JENNIFER RIGG

"Twenty-two years ago, Tom Nelson wore a helmet when he rode his motorcycle because his mother asked him to. Today he wears a helmet because one saved his life.

While riding in Houston, Nelson, then 24 years old, said a truck turned left in front of him. His head struck its side.

“I broke every bone in my face from my eyeballs down,” the now New Albany resident said. “Thank God I had that helmet on, which back in the day cost me $250. If it hadn’t been for the helmet, I definitely would have been dead.”

Nelson spent six weeks in intensive care recovering from his injuries. He didn’t get back on a motorcycle for 20 years.

“I knew they were dangerous,” Nelson said. “But I would always wear a helmet. I knew it was the smart thing to do because of the way I rode that bike. I rode it on the back wheel as much as I rode it on two wheels.”

According to Indiana State Police records, 2,587 motorcycle accidents occurred in 2005. Of those, 104 ended in fatality. Motorcycle accidents were involved in only 1.2 percent of all Indiana vehicle crashes in 2005 but accounted for 11 percent of all fatalities for the year. Only 20.7 percent of all motor vehicle crashes resulted in injury in 2005 while injuries were reported in more than 68 percent of all motorcycle crashes."

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