Motorcycle helmet use has been found to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among riders and 41 percent among passengers. They also prevent 13 percent of serious injuries and 8 percent of minor injuries to riders and passengers.
Annual cost savings in states with universal motorcycle helmet laws were nearly four times greater (per registered motorcycle) than in states without these comprehensive laws, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Universal helmet laws require that motorcycle riders and passengers wear a helmet every time they ride.
Annual costs saved from helmet use, in terms of 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 only certain riders, such as those under age 21, wear a helmet.
Universal helmet laws result in cost savings by increasing helmet use among riders and passengers, which reduces crash-related injuries and deaths. According to a CDC analysis of fatal crash data from 2008 to 2010, 12 percent of motorcyclists in states with universal helmet laws were not wearing helmets. In comparison, 64 percent of riders were not wearing helmets in states with partial helmet laws, and 79 percent of riders were not wearing helmets in states with no helmet laws.
“Increasing motorcycle helmet use can save lives and money,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “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.”
Universal helmet laws are the most effective strategy for increasing helmet use and protecting motorcycle riders and their passengers. As of May 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia had universal helmet laws, 28 states had partial helmet laws, and three states had no helmet law.
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