Skip to content


January 11, 2010

Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety

PDF 58 pages:

Motorcycle related only:
Page 13:
In 2008, 5,290 motorcycle riders were killed, an increase for the eleventh year in a row, and 96,000 were injured. Studies from NHTSA show that fatality rates are exceeding increases in vehicle miles traveled and motorcycle registrations. Motorcyclists are highly overrepresented in traffic fatalities.
In 2008, they represented 14 percent of total traffic fatalities, yet motorcycles comprised only 3 percent of all registered vehicles and accounted for 0.4 percent of all vehicle miles traveled in 2007.
Motorcyclists are 37 percent more likely to die in a crash than a passenger vehicle occupant. A 2004 Lou Harris Poll showed that eight of ten people believe their state should have an all-rider helmet law. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclists in 2008 and that 823 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. Despite these facts, in 2009, 19 states attempted to repeal their all-rider helmet law, while virtually no state has been successful in adopting a new one.

In 2007, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all states adopt an allrider helmet law. In states with all-rider helmet laws, use is nearly 100 percent. While helmets will not prevent crashes from occurring, they have a significant, positive impact on preventing head and brain injuries during crashes. Some critics of helmet laws cite motorcycle education programs as the answer, but research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and others shows no evidence that motorcycle rider
training reduces crash risk.

According to NHTSA, almost 50 percent of motorcycle crash victims have no private health insurance, so their medical bills are often paid by taxpayers. As states have repealed their helmet laws, helmet use nationally has declined from 71 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2008.

Helmet laws are the most effective countermeasure to prevent motorcycle rider fatalities, and they save money. In 1992, California’s all-rider law went into effect resulting in a 40 percent drop in its Medicaid costs and total hospital charges for treatment of motorcycle riders. According to NHTSA, an estimated $13.2 billion was saved from 1984 to 1999 because of motorcycle helmet use. An additional $11.1 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

Today, only 20 states and DC require all motorcycle riders to use a helmet. Twenty-seven states have laws that cover only some riders (i.e., up to age 18 or 21). These age-specific laws are nearly impossible for police officers to enforce and result in much lower helmet use. Three states (IL, IA and NH) have no motorcycle helmet use law. About two-thirds (65 percent) of the fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet in states without all-rider helmet laws compared to 14 percent in states with them. In 2004, Louisiana reinstated its all-rider helmet law after repealing it in 1999 and seeing a 100 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities and a 50 percent drop in helmet usage. In Missouri, safety groups successfully fought off another repeal effort in 2009, using data that proved repealing the law would again result in a dramatic rise in deaths, injuries and costs to the state.

Page 14:
Why Every State Should Pass an All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law

Helmet Laws Save Lives –
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Motorcycle helmets saved the lives of 1,829 people in 2008. An additional 823 lives could have been saved if every motorcyclist had worn a helmet.

Helmet Laws Increase Use –
Studies show that helmet use approaches 100 percent in states with all-rider motorcycle helmet laws. In states without all-rider laws, helmet use was 53 percent in 2002 and only 46 percent in 2005. Age-specific helmet laws are virtually impossible to enforce and there is no evidence that these laws reduce deaths and injuries.

Fiscal Responsibility –
Riders who do not wear helmets have higher health care costs as a result of their crash injuries and nearly half lack private insurance. The financial burden for treatment and care of uninsured motorcycle crash victims is placed on the government and taxpayers. In 2005, Maryland estimated that repeal of its all-rider helmet law would increase Medicaid expenditures by $1.2 million in the first year and annually up to $1.5 million thereafter.

Fatalities and Injuries are Climbing –
In 2008, 5,290 motorcycle riders died in crashes, and 96,000 were injured. Motorcycle fatalities are at their highest level, and now account for 14 percent of all annual fatalities, even though motorcycles represent nearly 3 percent of all registered vehicles and accounted for only 0.4 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.

The Public Overwhelmingly Supports Helmet Laws –
According to a motor vehicle occupant survey conducted by NHTSA, 81 percent reported that they favored mandatory helmet use laws for motorcyclists. A 2004 Lou Harris poll commissioned by Advocates yielded the same results.

Alternatives are Costly and Ineffective –
There is no scientific evidence that motorcycle rider training reduces crash risk and is an adequate substitute for an all-rider helmet law. A review conducted in 1996 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation concluded that there is “no compelling evidence that rider training is associated with reductions in collisions.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and IIHS also support these claims.

Helmets Do Not Increase the Likelihood of Spinal Injury or Crash –
Critics of helmet laws often cite a highly disputed study indicating the added weight of helmets cause neck and spinal injuries during crashes. More than a dozen peer-reviewed medical studies refute this claim. Long-standing, credible studies have determined that helmets reduce head injuries without increased occurrence of spinal injuries in motorcycle trauma.
Studies also show that helmets do not restrict vision, interfere with hearing, or cause heat discomfort.

One Comment leave one →
  1. goldiron permalink*
    January 12, 2010 8:06 am

    Lawmakers and heads of state believe this crap. These same lawmakers and heads of state enact statutes, regulations and laws that are to be put in motion by clerks and enforced by LEOs and functionaries within LEAs.
    Articles such as this are commonly spread to reinforce the belief that government should be more involved in all of our personal lives.
    Have these “Safety Laws” made you or your family any more safe?
    Are the people that enact these laws operating in your interest or that of the government?
    Are the people that enforce these laws, just doing their job or are they part of the problem?
    Why are government officials and departments held harmless, given immunity from prosecution or given a different standard or set of rules to live under?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: