Motorcycle Helmets: The Statistics

When you go for a ride on your motorcycle, you?re out to have fun. And hey, you?ve never had a crash before, so why would it happen now? Here are the government statistics about motorcycle helmets.

A brief history of the Law
In 1967, the US federal government said that it would take away funding from any state that didn?t have a helmet law. By 1975, 47 states had complied with the federal government. However, in 1976, they repealed the law, ruling it unconstitutional. Most states softened their helmet laws.

Kentucky and Louisiana
In the late 1990s, Kentucky and Louisiana repealed their helmet laws. While the helmet laws were in effect, nearly 100{7999a8309af6224f4d845e4abcd27f0719096a3ddeac7de53185ec65ca31df3b} of the people wore their helmets. When the laws came off the books, it fell to only half of people wearing helmets. The rate of fatalities per number of registered motorcycles rose 37{7999a8309af6224f4d845e4abcd27f0719096a3ddeac7de53185ec65ca31df3b} in Kentucky, and it rose a staggering 74{7999a8309af6224f4d845e4abcd27f0719096a3ddeac7de53185ec65ca31df3b} in Louisiana.

Don?t mess with Texas
Similarly to Kentucky and Louisiana, Texas took its helmet law off the books in 1997 for riders 21 or older who have insurance or training. Helmet use dropped from 96{7999a8309af6224f4d845e4abcd27f0719096a3ddeac7de53185ec65ca31df3b} to 66{7999a8309af6224f4d845e4abcd27f0719096a3ddeac7de53185ec65ca31df3b}, and motorcycle related deaths went up 1/3rd. This means that the death rates corresponds almost directly to the proportion of people who do not wear helmets.

Florida?s Example
Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000. From 1997-1999 (three years while the law was in place) 515 motorcycle riders were killed in crashes; 48 of those deaths were people not wearing helmets. From 2001-2003 (three years after the law was created) there were 933 motorcycle riders killed in crashes; 566 of these were not wearing their helmet.

What we can learn from this is that more people die when helmet use becomes optional. There were roughly 400 deaths in each three year period of people who wear helmets. However, the rate of people who died not wearing helmets went up more than 10 times. This is not coincidental.

Helmet Law Defense League
The Helmet Law Defense League is a group of people who lobby against laws requiring the use of helmets. They claim that it anti-constitutional to force people to wear helmets. They also argue that the word ?helmet? is too vague.

Bells and Whistles
Even if you don?t choose to wear a motorcycle helmet for safety reasons, there are other reasons. The face guard allows you to see more clearly and prevents damage to your eyes when you go at high speeds. It also offers ear protection. Some helmets can be equipped with intercoms so you can communicate with your friends while you?re on your bike.

The Source
The mortality rate statistics are taken directly from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The figures can be accessed through their annual reports, and some are available on their websites.