Ms. Jamie Maradiaga, principal of Broward County’s Croissant Park Elementary School in Ft. Lauderdale since 2010, and 25-year Broward County Public School employee died as a result of injuries she suffered in a motorcycle crash over the weekend of March 5, 2016. The 48-year old Maradiaga was a passenger on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by James Hughes when the bike failed to negotiate a curve in the road. The motorcycle accident occurred in nearby Collier County. It is unclear where they were going and whether or not alcohol was involved. Neither rider was wearing a safety helmet.
Ms. Maridiaga died of head injuries at Kendall Regional Hospital. The driver, James Hughes suffered only minor injuries. While we all mourn the death of one of our state’s residents, the death of a high-profile public servant serves as an opportunity to educate the public and help save lives.
The importance of wearing an approved motorcycle helmet when driving or riding a motorcycle can not be overstated. According to the NHTSA, in 2013 alone, the most recent year when statistics are available, it is estimated that wearing a motorcycle helmet saved over 1500 lives. The agency adds that if all motorcyclist had worn a helmet that year, 715 additional deaths would have been avoided. Florida has the highest number of motorcycle fatalities in the nation, and the death rate has more than doubled since the repeal of the state’s mandatory helmet law in 2000, according to the Automobile Club of America. Because of Florida’s year-round, beautiful weather, and also because of the state’s large population and open roads, Florida has the highest motorcycle fatality rate in the nation with 467 deaths in 2013.
Motorcycle helmets saved 1,630 lives in 2013, according to the NHTSA. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, 715 more lives would have been saved, analysts concluded.
Florida Helmet Law – In order to operate a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, a person must be at least 21 years old and have medical coverage in the amount of $10,000 or greater. This includes the wearing of novelty helmets.