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Statistics Don’t Lie

Statistics from all sources continue to prove that motorcycle helmet laws save lives. Government and privately conducted studies support the effectiveness of helmets and the impact of helmet laws in reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities. The results of some of these studies are cited below.

In its Report to Congress: Benefits of Safety Belts and Motorcycle Helmets, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that:

  • Motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
  • Un-helmeted motorcyclists are over three times as likely to suffer a brain injury as were those who were helmeted.
  • NHTSA estimates that in 1996 helmets saved 490 motorcyclists’ lives. If all motorcyclists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia had worn a helmet, that number would have been 769.
  • NHTSA estimates that from 1984 to 1996 helmets saved the lives of 7,940 motorcyclists. If all motorcyclists in all 50 states and the District of Columbia had worn a helmet during this time period, the number of lives saved would have been 14,505.
  • Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data indicated that helmets are 29 percent effective in reducing fatalities in motorcycle crashes.

The U.S. General Accounting Office reviewed 46 studies on motorcycle helmets and helmet laws with these findings:

  • Helmeted riders have up to a 73 percent lower fatality rate than un-helmeted riders.
  • Helmeted riders have up to an 85 percent reduced incidence of severe, serious, and critical injuries than un-helmeted riders.
  • The GAO concluded: “Because there is convincing evidence that helmets save lives and reduce society’s burden of caring for injured riders, Congress may wish to consider encouraging states to enact and retain universal helmet laws.”

For more information, check out our Motorcycle Injury & Safety Links section.

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