According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), more than 12 people die in the U.S. each day in a motorcycle accident. And the leading cause of fatal motorcycle accidents is head injuries. In an effort to reduce this number of fatal accidents, the NTSB is urging states to enact mandatory helmet laws for all motorcycle riders.
NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart noted that only 3 percent of all vehicles on the road are motorcycles, but they are involved in 13 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents. “Too many lives are lost in motorcycle accidents. It’s a public health issue,” said Hart. According to Hart, helmets with proper padding that meet federal regulations are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities.
Currently, only three states have no helmet laws at all (Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire). Of the 47 that do, only 20 of them (plus the District of Columbia) require helmets for all riders. The remaining 27 states, including Connecticut, only require helmets for some users – usually those under age 18.
Motorcyclists are concerned with the movement for more regulation. “We’re making so much progress in the areas of rider education and motorist awareness, to call on the states to adopt motorcycle helmet laws, it seems like a jump in the wrong direction,” said Motorcycle Riders Foundation Vice President Jeff Hennie. Hennie noted how fatal motorcycle accidents decreased in 2009, for the first time in 11 years. Motorcycle advocates feel that renewed efforts for uniform helmet laws are untimely, given the decline in fatalities.
But experts are not convinced – they believe that motorcycle accidents fell last year because of the bad economy: fewer riders on the roads, hence fewer accidents.
Sources: NTSB pushes for stricter motorcycle helmet laws; NTSB calls for motorcycle helmet laws