ATLANTA (AP) — Fewer motorcyclists die in states that require helmets, and
the costs to society are lower too, according to a new federal study
About five times as many no-helmet biker deaths occur in states with less
restrictive laws, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study
“These laws save lives,” said Rebecca Naumann, an epidemiologist and the
study’s lead author.
CDC researchers looked at a government tally of fatal traffic crashes. They
focused on 2008 through 2010 and counted 14,283 deaths of motorcyclists.
That included 6,057 bikers with no helmet. Only about 12 percent of those
deaths occurred in the 20 states that required everyone on motorbikes to
The researchers also made 2010 cost calculations based on medical expenses
and lost work productivity from motorcycle deaths and injuries.
“In 2010, more than $3 billion in economic costs were saved due to helmet
use in the United States,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a
statement. “Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists
had worn helmets.”
In states that mandate helmets, more is saved per registered bike than in
states with fewer or no restrictions, $725 versus $200, researchers
estimated. When the study was done, three states — Illinois, Iowa and New
Hampshire — had no helmet law and another 27 only required helmets for
teenagers or certain other riders.
Twenty states had universal motorcycle helmet laws, but Michigan changed its
law this year. Now riders older than 21 can ride without a helmet if they
meet certain requirements, including carrying an additional $20,000 in
According to the CDC, motorcycles account for about 3 percent of the
registered vehicles on the road. But about 14 percent of the people who die
in traffic accidents are motorcyclists.
Also Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged
motorcyclists not to wear the 5X5 brand, SA-08 model motorcycle helmet.
Under federal testing, the helmets failed to meet penetration protection