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Save Lives, Save Money - How Does Your State Measure Up?

When Louisiana re-enacted its universal helmet law in 2004, helmet use increased from 60% to 99%. As a result, Louisiana saw decreases in motorcycle rider death rates.1 Louisiana ranks #4 in the nation for lives saved and economic costs saved due to helmet use.

Regional Comparison of Helmet Law Impact

Legend for the visual indicators of types of helmet laws

State Type of Law/Year Enacted Lives saved by helmet use per 100,00 registered motorcycles, 20102,3 Economic Costs saved by helmet use per 100,00 registered motorcycles, 20102,3
Arkansas Partial Helmet Law / 1997 7 $14M
Louisiana Universal Helmet Law / 2004 53 $108M
Oklahoma Partial Helmet Law / 1976 6 $12M
Texas Partial Helmet Law / 1997 24 $48M

Regional map comparing the state helmet laws that are in the table

A National Perspective

This chart shows a national perspective of the lives saved and money saved, in 2010, as a result of helmet use. The chart shows that the average number of lives saved by helmet use, in 2010, in states with universal helmet laws, was 36 per 100,000 registered motorcycles. In states with partial helmet laws, this number was 10, and in states with no helmet law, this number was four. The chart also shows economic costs saved by helmet use, per 100,000 registered motorcycles. In 2010, in states with universal helmet laws, the average amount of money saved was $73 million. In states with partial helmet laws, this amount was $21 million, and in states with no helmet law, this number was $9 million.

[ View text version of the table ]

What Can Louisiana Do?

Protect your universal helmet law.

Keep in mind that your law saves the lives of many Louisiana residents, protects your families and communities from preventable tragedy, and frees up money for your other priorities.

Quick Facts

  • The single most effective way for states to save lives and save money is a universal helmet law.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37%.
  • Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.
  • The United States saved $3 billion due to helmet use in 2010.
  • The United States could have saved an additional $1.4 billion in 2010 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
  • Helmets do not reduce visibility or impair hearing.

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. This 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.

References

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts: Evaluation of the reinstatement of the motorcycle helmet law in Louisiana. Washington (DC): National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; 2008.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lives and costs saved by motorcycle helmets, 2010. Washington (DC): National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; 2012. Unpublished data.
  3. Federal Highway Administration. Highway statistics 2010: State motor-vehicle registrations (Table MV-1). Washington (DC): Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; 2011.

 

 
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