Study Proves Benefits of Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws

States that have them saved almost four times more per registered motorcycle than those without these laws, according to the study in CDC's MMWR.

Annual cost savings in states with universal motorcycle helmet laws for motorcycle riders and passengers were nearly four times more per registered motorcycle than in states without them, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study.

Annual medical, productivity, and other costs ranged from a high of $394 million in California (which has a universal helmet law) to a low of $2.6 million in New Mexico (which has a partial law). Partial helmet laws require that certain riders, such as those younger than 21, wear helmets. The analysis of fatal crash data from 2008 to 2010 showed 12 percent of motorcyclists in states with universal helmet laws were not wearing helmets, but 64 percent of riders were not wearing helmets in states with partial helmet laws and 79 percent weren't wearing helmets in states with no helmet laws.

As of May 2012, 19 states and Washington, D.C. had universal helmet laws, 28 states had partial helmet laws, and three states had no helmet law.

"Increasing motorcycle helmet use can save lives and money," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "In 2010, more than $3 billion in economic costs were saved due to helmet use in the United States. Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets."

CDC researchers analyzed data from two national sources for this study: 2008-2010 Fatality Analysis Reporting System data and 2010 data on economic costs saved by motorcycle helmet use from NHTSA. For more information about motorcycle safety, visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety.

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