Helmet Safety Info

Facts that helmet law proponents subscribe to
Click here for Facts that helmet law repeal advocates subscribe to
Click here for an Easyrider editorial regarding mandatory helmet use laws

I have tried hard to present information relating to helmet laws, helmet usage, motorcycle crashes and injuries sustained in the most unbiased manner possible. I invite anyone who has factual, reliably obtained information to provide me with a link to that URL. Editor notes are made solely to identify cases where "facts" are presented without providing information on how those "facts" were arrived at.

I think that most of us are agreed that working for safer roads is a laudable goal. However, most Motorcyclists might disagree that mandating helmet use in any way helps to move society closer to that objective.


Source: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 750 First St. NE, Suite 901, Washington, D.C. 20002

http://www.saferoads.org/ Founded in 1989 by the heads of a number of major property and casualty insurance companies. The insurer members provide the financial resources of this organization. http://www.saferoads.org/press/95/rel-nhs2.html During deliberation on the National Highway System (NHS) Designation Act of 1995 (S. 440), an amendment to remove motorcycle helmet laws from Section 153 (which subsequently passed), Judith Lee Stone, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety testified: Helmet laws also save lives. In 1993, helmet use in the states with all-rider helmet laws resulted in 515 lives saved, 2,035 moderate to serious injuries prevented and more than $513 million saved. Another 225 lives could have been saved if the other 25 states had all-rider helmet laws. Helmet laws also reduce serious injury, particularly costly head injuries, the leading cause of death for motorcyclists. A single head-injured motorcyclist can cost a state more than $2 million over a lifetime.

ED Note: No sources for any of these claims were provided. I have asked Advocates for information concerning how these figures were arrived at. So far, my requests have been ignored. Driver training and collision avoidance are absent as possible solutions in all of Advocate's material that I looked at. Advocates also lobbies in favor of roadside sobriety checkpoints (ALA Police State papers checks) and supports radar detector bans. Additionally, they also support and lobby for the mandating of anti-lock brake use in large trucks even though many Experts are finding that this architecture may actually cause accidents and loss of life. I have not been able to find out if anyone in the 25 states where 515 lives were "saved" saw a reduction in their insurance premiums.


http://www.dot.gov/affairs/helmet.htm Doesn't anyone have a memory? We've been down the road of repealing motorcycle helmet law provisions before. We did it in the 1970s -- we said let the states decide. Twenty -seven states repealed their helmet laws. What happened? Deaths increased 61 percent. I saw what happened in Colorado. When we had a motorcycle helmet law, deaths decreased 24 percent (6 riders). When it was lifted, deaths increased 61 percent (actual number not stated).

ED Note: No specific details were provided. As anyone who plays the numbers game knows, "statistics" can be twisted to support whatever point one is trying to make. Certainly, we are all touched by Mr. Pena's concern for the safety of the Colorado's Biker community.

Sarcasm aside, the death increase that Mr. Pina spoke of was apparently an increase in Colorado rider deaths, not US Rider deaths for an undisclosed year. One would need to know the statistics for all 27 States, for all of the years where helmet laws were and were not in force to make an informed proclamation. It is amazing to me that the head of a large and well funded organization like the US DOT would present to Congress as "facts" such sweeping statements and unsubstantiated generalizations without providing any documentation to back up these claims. I have requested the data that supports the Secretary's claims. None has been provided as of this writing.

U.S. Department of Transportation studies

In 1995 2,230 motorcyclists died and approximately 58,000 were injured in highway crashes in the US. NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmets reduce the likelihood of a fatality by 29 percent in a crash. In NHTSA's latest survey helmet use was reported to be 34 to 54 percent in areas with no helmet use laws or laws limited to minors.

ED: Note: By NHTSA's own survey, as many as 1/3 to 1/2 of all Bikers in the 25 States that don't require helmet use wear them anyway. No figures were given on how many of these Bikers were killed or seriously injured while wearing helmets.

NHTSA does not characterize the type(s) of crashes where the stated 29% likelihood of fatality reduction might be obtained. For example, if a (helmeted) motorcyclist were stopped at a red light and was rear-ended by a runaway cement truck, would this rider be included in this vague 29% estimate?

NHTSA goes on to state:
In Oregon there was a 33 percent reduction in motorcycle fatalities the year after its helmet law was re enacted. Nebraska experienced a 32 percent (4 riders out of over 20,000 motorcycles registered) reduction in the first year of its law. Texas experienced a 23 percent reduction. Washington experienced a 15 percent reduction. California experienced a 37 percent reduction and Maryland experienced a 20 percent reduction.

Refer to the Effectiveness of Motorcycle Helmets in Preventing Fatalities U S Dept. of Transportation Report No DOT HS 807 416 March 1989

ED Note: No figures were given regarding the number of rider deaths and serious injuries that occurred by Riders who were wearing a helmet. No information was provided regarding which year(s) of no helmet law enforcement were being quoted. No data was provided for the 8 years that have gone by since this 1989 study was conducted.

Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, Iowa Dept. of Public Safety

http://www.state.ia.us/government/dps/gtsb/gtsft_7.htm The national highway traffic safety administration reports that unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and twice as likely to suffer serious head injuries compared with riders wearing helmets. Nationally, nearly 2,300 motorcyclists and moped riders were killed in 1995. During 1995, Iowa motorcycle fatalities totaled 42, up 13 or 45% from 1994 when 29 riders were killed. Only 3 of the 1995 fatality victims were using helmets (7%).

ED Note: The NHTSA report that was quoted has been requested from Iowa TSB. I have also asked for statistics on pre 1994 and post 1995 motorcycle accident data in Iowa. These requests have been ignored so far.

A 20 year old study (the Hurt report), commonly quoted and widely discredited, conducted by the University of Southern California (USC).

http://www.halcyon.com/moto/safety/hurt_summary.html In the single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering. In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented.

More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years.

ED Note: Any experienced Biker will tell you what non-Bikers who perform these studies cannot seem to grasp -- inexperience, showing off and driving drunk is what will get you killed on a motorcycle. Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to address this pretty obvious (to all of us) fact.

We invite and encourage Legislators and other interested folks to stop by to get the "real scoop" regarding helmet laws and motorcycle safety. If you or your organization have information you would like to add to this page, please send me an excerpt and the link to the source document and I will be happy to add it.

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Homepage of Easyrider LAN Pro Last modified on Friday, April 4, 1997