Motorcycle Safety Guide: Universal Helmet Laws Increase Helmet Use
There are two types of helmet laws used in the United States.
Universal Helmet Law: Requires all motorcycle riders and passengers of all ages to wear helmets whenever riding.
Partial Helmet Law: Only requires specific groups of people, such as those below a certain age, to wear helmets.
Each state decides its respective helmet law. As of May 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia had universal helmet laws, 28 states had a partial helmet law, and 3 states had no helmet law. Many states have weakened their helmet law over the years, while a few states have strengthened their helmet law.37
The research on states that change their helmet law is very clear:
- When a state enacts a universal helmet law, helmet use increases substantially.3,30,31,32,33
- When a state repeals a universal helmet law, helmet use decreases substantially.3,34,35,36
- When a state repeals a universal helmet law, motorcycle deaths and injuries increase.3
The Positive Impact of Strengthening Helmet Laws
Rate of helmet use before and after enacting a universal helmet law3,30,31,32,33
All five states gained a substantial increase in helmet use in the year after the universal
helmet law was enacted.
The Negative Impact of Weakening Helmet Laws
Rate of helmet use before and after repealing a universal helmet law3,34,35,36
All six states showed a substantial decrease in helmet use in the year after the universal
helmet law was repealed.
References are located on the Endnotes page.
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