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July 3, 2011

A motorcycle rider participating in an event in Onondaga, NY to protest New York State’s mandatory helmet law has wrecked and died of a traumatic brain injury doctors say was preventable with a helmet.

According to ABC News, Philip Contos, 55, rode without a helmet in an annual event organized by American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) on Sunday to protest the helmet law. During the ride, Contos applied the brakes of his motorcycle, lost control and flew over the handlebars, landing on the roadway and striking his head on the pavement.

Emergency services transported Contos to Upstate University Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead. He suffered a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury (TBI) from the wreck.

“The medical expert we discussed the case with who pronounced him deceased stated that he would’ve no doubt survived the accident had he been wearing a helmet,” state Troopers told ABC News 9 in Syracuse.

New York is one of twenty states that have mandatory helmet laws requiring motorcycle riders to comply by wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation, called a DOT Approved helmet.

USA Today reported in 2008 that motorcycle deaths increased in states that loosened helmet laws.

“Laws mandating helmet use at all times have no significant effect on the safety of motorcycling in general, although use of a helmet may or may not be beneficial in individual accident circumstances,” ABATE’s position on helmet laws said, using statistics as old as 1981 and as recent as 2001 to support their position. “The decision on when to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle should remain with each responsible adult rider.”

The Associated Press reports that 3,615 people died last year in motorcycle accidents.

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