AUSTIN, Texas—As Texas and New Jersey get ready for a potentially contentious battle over whether to legalize car racing and helmet-wearing, the debate over which is more dangerous has intensified.
A new study by a University of Texas-Austin researcher finds that in states that have legalized or legalized some form of car racing helmet wearing, there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of fatal crashes involving helmet-related fatalities.
The study was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.
“We found that in Texas, there is a strong association between helmet wearing and fatal car racing crashes, and the increase is most pronounced in New Jersey,” said John J. Schafer, an associate professor in the University of Houston’s Department of Global Health Policy and Management.
Schafer is an author of the study and an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University at Buffalo School of Public Policy.
He is the lead author of a new study published in the journal BMJ Open.
The Texas study looked at data from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Fatal Car Crash Data System, which tracks crashes involving drivers in vehicles with at least one occupant killed.
Data from this data set were used to estimate the number and types of fatal car crashes involving a driver wearing a helmet in Texas between 2003 and 2014.
The analysis found that there were 2,063 fatal car crash deaths in Texas from 2003 to 2014, with more than 8,000 fatalities.
Those deaths involved more than 17,000 drivers, and accounted for about 16 percent of all fatal car-crash fatalities.
Of those fatalities, 534 involved a driver who had no other documented injuries and had a blood alcohol level of 0.09 percent or more, the study found.
The second most deadly driver involved in Texas was a 27-year-old man who was driving a 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck in Houston’s downtown business district when he was struck by a Chevrolet Suburban driven by a man wearing a racing helmet.
The driver, who was not wearing a car racing glove, was killed instantly, according to a statement from Houston police.
Another 27-years-old male driver in Houston, who did not have a helmet at the time of the crash, was hit by a Ford Explorer driven by an 18-year old male passenger who had a racing mask on, according a statement released by the state.
The man in his 20s was killed at the scene.
The data showed that the number one driver in Texas who died was a 26-year‑old man in Houston who was wearing a sports helmet at time of crash, the data showed.
“It’s a huge increase,” Schafer said.
“It’s absolutely staggering.”
Schafer said the data does not provide a comprehensive look at all car crashes in Texas.
“Our findings are limited to drivers who had been wearing helmets for at least six months prior to the crash,” he said.
Schafer said it’s likely that many more people are injured in these car crashes.
“The big problem is we don’t know who the drivers are, because the helmet laws aren’t enforced, and because we don.t have a way of knowing how many of these crashes are caused by drivers who are not wearing helmets,” he added.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is also a Republican, has been pushing for car racing to be legalized in the state, but has not released any details about his plans.
New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo has not commented on whether he will legalize car races, but his administration has repeatedly said that it will not.
New Hampshire Gov.
Maggie Hassan has been outspoken in her support of car races.
In a statement Friday, she said, “It is time for our politicians to get out of the car and start governing, not to worry about a helmet.”