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Motorcycle Safety Guide: FAQs

Do helmet laws interfere with a person’s freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet?

Yes. Many laws restrict people’s freedom to perform behaviors judged contrary to the public good. These include drunk driving laws, cellphone use laws, and infectious disease quarantine laws, to name a few. Courts usually uphold such laws as important to the nation’s well-being.

Don’t helmets make it harder for riders to see or hear?

No. Helmets that meet the DOT standard do not reduce visibility or impair hearing. By protecting people’s heads in crashes, helmets only make riding safer.

If a motorcyclist chooses not to wear a helmet, does it only affect him?

No, not if the rider crashes. Unhelmeted riders injured in a crash have substantially higher healthcare costs than helmeted riders. When the rider is insured, these costs are passed on to others in the form of higher health insurance premiums. Unhelmeted riders are more likely to be uninsured than other riders. When the riders are uninsured, their medical expenses may be paid for using taxpayers’ funds.

Can motorcycle safety education substitute for helmet laws?

No. The benefits of motorcycle safety education are unclear. A universal helmet law is the most effective way to reduce the number of people who are seriously injured or killed from motorcycle crashes.

Are universal helmet laws really that much better than partial helmet laws?

Yes. There is strong, substantial, and clear evidence that universal helmet laws save lives and save money. his is not true for partial laws. When a universal helmet law is enacted, helmet use dramatically increases, and states see an across-the-board decrease in deaths. If states repeal the law, they see an increase in deaths.

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