Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Motorcycles are the most hazardous form of motor vehicle transportation.1 In 2013, 4,668 motorcyclists were killed. Additionally, 88,000 more were injured on our nation’s roads in 2013. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,630 motorcyclists in 2013 and that 715 more lives in all states could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. The number of motorcycle crash fatalities has more than doubled since a low of 2,116 motorcycle crash deaths in 1997. All-rider helmet laws increase motorcycle helmet use, decrease deaths and injuries and save taxpayer dollars.

Helmets Save Lives & Reduce Health Care Costs

  • According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, “laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proved to be effective in reducing motorcyclist fatalities.”In states without an all-rider helmet law 59% of the motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets, as opposed to only 8% in states with all-rider helmet laws in 2013.
  • Annually, motorcycle crashes cost $12.9 billion in economic impacts, and $66 billion in societal harm as measured by comprehensive costs based on 2010 data. Compared to other motor vehicle crashes, these costs are disproportionately caused by fatalities and serious injuries.
  • Motorcycle helmets are currently preventing $17 billion in societal harm annually, but another $8 billion in harm could be prevented if all motorcyclists wore helmets.
  • Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than occupants of passenger cars.
  • In Michigan, which repealed its all-rider law in 2012, there would have been 26 fewer motorcycle crash deaths (a 21% reduction) if the helmet mandate was still in place, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Additionally, in the remainder of the year after the helmet repeal was enacted (April of 2012), only 74% of motorcyclists involved in crashes were helmeted, compared to 98% in the same time period of the previous four years.
  • In states with an all-rider helmet law, use of a helmet resulted in economic costs saved to society of $725 per registered motorcycle, compared with $198 per registered motorcycle in states without such a law.
    • Helmets are currently saving $2.7 billion in economic costs annually.
  • In 2013, motorcyclists represented 14% of the total traffic fatalities, yet accounted for only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States.
  • By an overwhelming majority (80%), Americans favor state laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets.
  • Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and reduce the risk of death by 42%.
  • When crashes occur, motorcyclists need adequate head protection to prevent one of the leading causes of death and disability in America — head injuries.

For a full list of citations, please download our Motorcycle Helmet Fact Sheet.