First, let me be clear, I believe that riders should be able to choose whether they wear a helmet or not. Next, I am also not advocating the use or non-use of helmets, but just presenting results from a study done by the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
This NHTSA study measures the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets in preventing fatalities in motorcycle crashes where there were two riders and one died in the crash. The data used in the study are based on a Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the findings were that motorcycle helmets do decrease the number of fatalities in motorcycle crashes.
Here are the Highlights:
- Effectiveness of 37 percent means that a rider can reduce his or her risk of suffering a fatal injury in a crash by over one-third simply by wearing a proper helmet.
- The state of the art in helmet design and materials has improved significantly over the past fifteen years, and their effectiveness in preventing fatalities is greater than previous estimates indicated.
- As a result of these improvements, motorcycle helmets are currently estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing rider fatalities, compared with the 1989 estimated effectiveness of 29 percent.
- The higher effectiveness means that over the ten year period from 1993 through 2002, motorcycle helmets have saved 7,808 lives, 2,378 more than was previously thought.
- Despite the improved performance of helmets, the incidence of fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States has been increasing in recent years, as the percentage of riders who use helmets has fallen from 71 percent to 58 percent nationally.
- While helmets have improved, the proportion of riders who actually use them has declined.
Read the full NHTSA Motorcycle Helmet Effectiveness study.