Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger upgraded to fair condition

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

On Tuesday, NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was upgraded to fair condition at Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital. The extent of his injuries is now known. Roethlisberger lost two teeth and chipped others, suffered a concussion, a broken upper and lower jaw, a broken nose, broken facial bone, a 9 inch laceration to the back of his head, and road rash injuries to his knees which thankfully do not extend to the joints. Police confirmed that Roethlisberger was riding without a helmet and additionally, did not have a Pennsylvania motorcycle license; he had a learner's permit, which expired March 29, 2006. Given this fact, Roethlisberger was in fact legally obligated to wear a helmet in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Steelers officials and Roethlisberger's agent, Leigh Steinberg, confirmed that Ben had received a letter last year from team representatives warning him that parts of his contract might be affected if he were to be injured while riding a motorcycle. The letter was apparently sent in order to both put the team on solid legal footing were a major accident to occur, and apprise Ben of the risks he is taking by riding a motorcycle.

Records kept by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation indicate that 180 helmet-wearing motorcyclists died in wrecks in 2004 and 2005 in Pennsylvania. In the same period, 157 helmet-free bikers died in wrecks.

Pennsylvania's Helmet Law (Effective Sept. 4, 2003)

Pennsylvania's 35-year-old law requiring helmets to be worn was amended in 2003 to make helmets optional under certain circumstances. According to the amended law, a motorcyclist will no longer be required to wear a helmet if the rider is:

  • A person 21 years of age or older who has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years.
  • A person 21 years of age or older who has completed a motorcycle rider safety course approved by the department or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
  • A passenger 21 years of age or older if the motorcycle driver meets one of the qualifications for not wearing a helmet.