Why more motorcycle deaths haven’t meant tougher helmet laws

Dailies -



Last month, we told you that, while car fatality rates continue to fall, deaths on bikes continue to increase. Why? Here, PBS and FairWarning.org weigh in on the issue. Turns out the why might be complicated, but the solution could be simple.

The interview also references a recent CDC study on helmet use and motorcycle safety.

Thanks for the tip, Aaron.

  • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

    The AMA can eat a box of dicks. Seriously. Do they actually do anything that makes motorcycling in the U.S. better?


      They’re like the NRA of motorcycling, but worse. It’s like the NRA saying guns shouldn’t have safeties.

    • http://seansullivan.me Sean

      provide sweet roadside assistance for cheap.

      • Gregory

        Exactly. Roadside assistance– three free ~10 mile tows per year if broken down, for about $25 per year– is the only I became a member.

    • T Diver

      Godamn Fucktards.

    • dan

      +1 and I posted my disagreement with AMA on its FB. Stupidity.

    • Ax

      They were instrumental in reversing the lead-ban that prevented children from having child-sized bikes to learn on.

      They are extremely active in preventing the closure of off highway riding areas.

      I’d list more but anyone who gives a shit would already know or would find out themselves.

      • Gene

        They’re also stopping the motorcycle-only checkpoints.

        Yeah, this is the *only* reason I’m still an AMA member. Not happy, but better than nothing.

    • Jeff

      They actually lobbied and succeeded in making it a federal law for all motorcylces to be considered HOV vehicles. It helps here where lane-splitting still isn’t legal.

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    I’ll have to watch this video when I get home, it’s too damn quiet, but IMO helmet laws aren’t a motorcycle community issue, they’re a liberties issue.

    The state doesn’t mandate I wear an Aerostich, 10-inch boots and hard-knuckled gloves. But I do. I don’t need rules telling me to take care of myself.

    I am quite generally opposed to laws that protect people from themselves, whether it’s helmets, seat belts or 32 oz sodas. If people can’t take care of themselves, that’s not my problem and it’s not the state’s.


      It is your problem when Johnny Head-smashed-in needs indigent care, or maybe he’s using your insurance provider. What if he’s your coworker? What if he’s your brother? You pay the costs somewhere along the line.

      I really don’t understand how this issue is any different than a seatbelt mandate. People used to cut them out of their cars, but then they passed a law and actually enforced it. Now, practically everyone wears them.

      The AMA is a truly pernicious, backward-thinking organization. I do not understand this BS “personal freedom” argument.

      • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

        Yep. I want to be “free” from paying for people who don’t even make the most basic attempt at safety.

        On a different note, there probably wouldn’t be the “protect people from themselves” laws if people weren’t idiots to begin with. If everyone had just worn seat belts there likely wouldn’t have been laws enacted. But they didn’t and it costs a LOT of money to our entire society so there’s a law now.

        • nick2ny

          “Yep. I want to be “free” from paying for people who don’t even make the most basic attempt at safety.”

          -Every car driver with respect to motorcyclists

          See where this is going?

          • Devin

            No, I don’t.

            Making motorcycles safer will lessen their agrument, not give them more ammunition.

          • Ax

            Yeah, that’s the problem. Most people can’t see the slippery slope until it’s too F’n late. Everyone’s OK with legislation until it finally starts infringing on THEIR freedom.


              No, there’s a reasonable person test that kicks in before your slippery slope. Asking folks to wear a helmet because it makes you double-digit less likely to die in an accident makes sense. Motorcycles are not howling, screaming death machines unless you make some seriously bad choices with them, or get tremendously unlucky.

              There should be DOT approved and mandated jackets, pants, boots, and gloves, IMO.

              • Ax

                The government entities doing this approving and mandating also have to pass the “reasonable person test”, right? ;)

            • Roman

              Slippery slope to where? Honestly, I want to know where helmet law opponents think this will lead. Specific examples please, you’re gonna have to do better than “omg freedom wtf”.

              • nick2ny

                Well, they came for the Fourth Amendment, Habeus Corpus, Posse Comitatus, and now they’re allowing thousands of drones to fly over the USA.

                Motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. Even though helmet laws don’t really reduce healthcare expenditures, motorcycle riders dramatically increase healthcare expenditures.

                So, a slippery slope to banning motorcycles, allowing healthcare providers to exclude motorcycle-related injuries, etc.

                Also, obesity is the only healthcare problem worth mentioning. I’d actually be entertain the idea of being okay with helmet laws if we could make a sketchy busybody deal where peoples caloric intake was limited to what they needed to eat.

                “If you have a strong disregard for your own health and safety, you are free to express it in all sorts of ways. You can smoke cigarettes. You can gorge on fast food five times a day. You can go live among bears in Alaska.

                You can stagger through the worst part of town at 2 a.m. You can become a trapeze artist. You can join the Marine Corps. But if federal regulators get their way, you will not be able to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.”

                More reading: http://reason.com/archives/2010/11/25/the-case-against-motorcycle-he

                • Roman

                  Nothing says “can’t think for yourself” better than quoting direct out of an ideological advocacy magazine. There were 40 states that had helmet laws on the books in the 60s, since than the number has dropped to 20, yet all those other examples of intrusion on civil liberties took place.

                  So if we were going to use the slippery slope argument, it looks like the fewer helmet laws are on the books, the more civil liberties will be abused. Or perhaps concerned citizens should focus their energies on actual threats to civil liberties (indefinite detentions, warrantless wiretapping, etc) instead of something as benign as helmet laws.

      • coredump

        Sounds like even more evidence we need universal healthcare like the rest of the civilized world. So when Layer Dan wreck’s his motorcycle the cost is spread amongst everyone and healthcare stays accessible for those who do take care of themselves.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

        Quantify those costs (such as insurance and healthcare) and, more importantly, how they impact me. I have yet to see that. I understand the logical point, but I think there’s an improper assumption on the ramifications.

        Say everyone starts wearing helmets and there’s less taxpayer burden. Will I see lower taxes, or will that money be used for something else that I may or may not support. If I will see lower taxes, how much lower? Are we talking $5/yr? $100/yr? Is it significant?

        Say everyone starts wearing helmets and there’s less burden on insurance companies. Will my rates go down or will they pocket the profit? How is it significantly different than the penalties I suffer for the myriad of crappy drivers of any sort of vehicle who use my same provider?

        I agree that it’s not different than the requirement to wear seatbelts, but I wonder how necessary that is. I wear a seatbelt because I want that extra safety, not because I’m worried about a fine. In the same manner, a helmet law by itself wouldn’t impact me personally, but I just don’t know that it’s the right answer.

        • pplassm

          I saw a study once, and there is negligible effect. Think of it this way- A helmetless rider is more likely to die and requre NO care.

    • coredump

      I agree with this. I think its the “State’s” or government’s responsibility to protect us from each other, outside aggressors, companies and organizations that would take advantage of us, and the government itself. But I don’t think the government should be protecting us from ourselves.

      • jp182

        Is there a big difference between the government protecting you from other people and protecting you from yourself?

        Most of us don’t live in bubbles and are impacting by other people in one way or another, small or big. So where is the line drawn?

        For example, if you buy a motorcycle and on your way home the bike falls apart and you end up crashing and getting hurt; would you sue manufacturer/dealer? Would you expect the law to be in your favor since they are responsible for selling you a faulty product? Or do you think that it’s your responsibility since you are the one that made the purchase?

    • mchale2020

      Something like helmet laws really isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s more about trying to preserve the community so that it may further enjoy the privilege to ride before it’s taken away because of the liabilities and lack of intelligent decisions. I think this fact is even more true in the face of automated transportation when insurance would probably just see it easier not to insure motorcycles when they can force an ex-rider into riding in a 100% safer automated machine that requires no thought input.

      But whatev’s. People with your perspective make me believe the riding community has maybe 15 years left in it before it dies out completely on public roads.

      • nick2ny

        If they want to “perserve the community” they should make roads that aren’t so simple that car drivers can fall asleep on them.

        • mchale2020

          I agree, but that would require reshuffling America’s entire infrastructure, and it’s broken enough as it is. Cagers can’t even take on the responsibility of safely staying in their lane most of the time, rebuilding our network of roads to encourage more accountability sounds appealing to me, but is quite unrealistic in the world we live in.

          I really think street-legal bikes are going the way of the dinosaur if the OEMs and riding community don’t make some kind of enlightening push in the near future.

  • R__M

    Has anyone seen data regarding the “social costs” per fatality, or even per crash? While the gentleman they refer to in the video does pay taxes for EMTs, police, etc., I highly doubt that the portion of his taxes used for those services outweighs the “social costs” of his potential death.

  • dan

    I would like to see a map overlapping the states with no helmets laws and those that want to regulate a vagina.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Hilarious. I’d imagine there’s strong correlation.

      • Bruce Steever

        Massive +1. Something about dead soldiers and live babies?

      • pplassm

        My state regulates vaginas AND helmets (VA).

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      Tonight, when I get home, I’m going to tell my wife that I want to “regulate your vagina”.

      I’ll report back with how that works out.



    • rndholesqpeg

      When looking at the map and you see that most of the southern states require helmets, I really don’t think there will be any correlation found.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    Already found an inaccuracy: the map at the beginning showing the states without mandatory helmet laws is wrong. I know for a fact that Missouri has 100% mandatory helmet law and it shows up on their map as ‘mandatory only for younger riders.’

    • http://worldof2.com/ jpenney

      Yep, good catch! Thought there are often bills like that going through our legislature.

  • HammSammich

    If you wanna make the “personal liberty” argument about helmet laws there is probably some room for discussion, but that’s a political philosophy issue that the AMA clearly recognizes they should not have a hand in. So instead, they come up with this dubious justification that enforcement of compulsory helmet laws somehow diminishes funding for “rider education and motorist awareness.”

    Enforcing helmet laws is about as cheap as it gets. It’s pretty damn easy to tell if a rider is wearing a helmet or not, and I suspect that traffic stops associated with enforcement would result in fines that more than cover the cost of enforcement. If you really want to find out what diminishes funding for Rider training and awareness look no further than the AMA and the cash they spend lobbying against compulsory helmet laws.

  • jason

    Funny that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation that does the rider training is all over armor and helmets, and the AMA is saying bandannas and assess chaps.
    People who scream loudest about their personal freedoms do not see how their throwing their freedom around kinda plows over other peoples.
    This is not a Motorcycle issue. It is a guys being DICKS issue.
    Europe and Japan have much stronger Moto culture and people there do not whine and bitch about helmets.
    Loud pipes+no helmet=DICK. Give him a Big Wheel with tassels.

    • coredump

      I look at is as more of a social contract construct. We assume personal rights until we infringe on other’s abilities to assume personal rights.

      I would like to see how my “freedom” to wear a helmet or not infringes on any of your freedoms. If I don’t wear a helmet then you can’t go to McDonalds? Explain to me how this would work.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      Find a source where the AMA supports bandannas and chaps. The AMA as an organization is 100% behind helmet use. Opposition to a helmet mandate is not the same thing as opposition to helmets, or any other gear.

  • Bruce Steever

    Pretty clear cut. Why do folks keep arguing this point? Oh yeah, because they’re stupid.

    NEW RULE: You get to ride without a helmet once you’ve submitted your skull to a certified helmet impact test.

    • coredump

      But why stop at just a helmet? Its obvious you’re not safe on a motorcycle with just a helmet so why do we draw the line there and give up? If people really gave a crap and wanted to put a law in place that would make a difference then they would mandate a minimum set of equipment that must be worn to ride then just a helmet.

  • Triman023

    Saw a story (can’t find it now) about a small town that repealed its bike helmet law because they didn’t have enough staff to enforce it. The worry was that they could be sued for uneven enforcement. Now they “encourage” helmet use.
    So, Saturday morning I am driving my car to the store and see a kid spread eagled out in the middle of the street. He wiped out on his bicycle and hit his head on the asphault.
    I gave his sister my phone to call the parents. The kid was talking and his eyes looked OK but was in a lot of pain. Parents showed up in a new Range Rover and he and his two sisters got in. Not one helmet for any of them, brand new bikes, new car, well off family with a concussion to take to emergency.
    I dumped my Buell in my driveway (forgot the petcock), when my helmet hit the pavement my neighbor could hear it a block away. I didn’t even get a headache, I put the helmet on before I get on the bike.
    So, I am a cranky old guy but I wonder what that concussion is going to do to that boy, what side effects does he have to live with because his dad didn’t get that helmet on his head. Avoidable pain is stupid.

    • nick2ny

      Avoiding pleasure is stupid too, and sometimes it’s nicer to ride without a helmet and take the risk. I’m only shooting to live another fifty to sixty years, not ten-thousand.

      Ever been to Amsterdam?

      • Roman

        I have, several times. Pretty much every motorcyclist I saw was ATGATT. And they have mandatory helmet laws there. So much for the slippery slope argument.

  • Gene

    One small nitpick: Could we get the top graphic in a size we could actually read the text? I can almost-but-not-quite read it.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Reads fine for me. I’ll add them as a gallery photo next time.

  • RagdollOp

    I am very ATGATT but I do believe that it should be a choice. I think that there should be more education on crash protection before you are allowed to get a motorcycle license.

    The problem is where it could lead. What if the state decided to ban bikes over 600cc because stats show that larger cc bikes results in higher fatalities? Where would it stop.

    Its just like what is happening in New York about soda and banning large fountain drinks to save people from themselves. What ever happened to self responsibility? I think the better solution would be that you get cheaper insurance for wearing gear.

    Also, what does abortion have to do with this? I don’t think pro-life has anything to do with wanting to “regulate vagina”. It has to do with preserving life. It really depends on your perspective. Just like how pro-choice can be misleading depending on how you look at it. It is only pro-choice for the mother but where is the choice of the baby?

    Sorry, rant is over. Just hate when people start using bad comparisons.

    • Gene

      Abortion was brought in because the theory is that it’s the same bunch of “I want to control YOUR life” control-freaks that want helmet laws.

      • RagdollOp

        But by having an abortion aren’t you actually controlling a life and ending it? I don’t really think they are trying to control your life. They are just saying that you shouldn’t be allowed to stop another human’s life. Pro-choice is really only pro-mother’s choice but the question is if the other human life should have a choice also.

  • RagdollOp

    Actually, I think the reason motorcycle fatalities are going up and not auto fatalities is because cagers are on their cell phones driving giant suvs running over the motorcyclists! Why don’t we just ban all cars instead! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    I just had this talk with someone. There are many people in Texas who are totally in favor of regulating that others must behave like they do, but get real fired up when the tables are turned.

    Conversely, I see it very interesting when the same people who rally against regulating others are okay with it when it’s something that they’re already doing. It seems a bit hypocritical all around.

    Wearing a helmet is safer and it’s the smart choice. It’s the choice I make every time. An adult should be free to make that choice; maybe a kid shouldn’t. There have been lots of suggestions and assumptions as to why a helmet law is good, but until I see real evidence, the core argument is, “Because it’s safer.”

    That’s where the slippery slope comes in. When safety is the justification, it isn’t a stretch to mandatory ABS, mandatory ATGATT, and so on until just getting motorcycles off the road altogether.

    • ike6116

      “Because it’s safer.”

      Is why you can’t sell an automobile without a seat belt.

      So, there’s kind of a precedent.

      There’s also the whole point that driving/riding are privileges, not rights.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

        There’s a difference between requiring an automobile to be sold with a seatbelt and the requirement of an adult to use said seatbelt. A similar law to the former would be requiring a helmet sale with a new motorcycle unless the buyer already has one.

        However, using the “requirement to wear” as a precedent, I wonder how that was justified. Was it declared, “Logically, it’s safer, so DONE!” Or were there measures involved? Personally, I’d like to see measurable benefit to the public. As of yet, I’ve seen a lot of theories and that’s it.

        Please elaborate on the privilege vs right argument, too.

        Ideally, I’d like to see the industry self-regulate. Dealers should do a better job of educating buyers on (and pushing) safety gear. It amazes me how every dealer I’ve bought a bike from has a fair selection of gear and not one of them pushed it at the point of sale.

        • ike6116

          In the United States you do not have the right to drive a car or ride a motorcycle.

          You have the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom from religious persecution, but no right to drive a car.

          Rights cant legally be taken away from you, Privileges can.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

            Ike – Gotcha. That’s what I figured you were getting at, but I make enough wrong assumptions to ask in advance.

            Thanks for the replies.

      • coredump

        Where do you get that driving and riding are not rights? The government doesn’t get to build a nationwide infrastructure with its citizen’s money and then tell the citizens they don’t have a right to it. At least not here in the US where the government is supposed to be of the people.

        • Archer

          He gets it in the law. Unfortunately you are wrong.

  • craymor

    I’ve got a question, why don’t insurance companies mandate that you wear a helmet or not? I’d much rather pay less and wear a helmet, and i know other people who would want to pay more for the “privilege” of not wearing one, and, if it’s a serious wreck it’s not like you can go and put it on after the fact.

    much the same with seat belts in cars, I don’t want to pay for the people who don’t want to wear them, but at the same time I don’t really think it should be up to the government to tell me what to do.

    I don’t get why they haven’t figured that out/aren’t allowed to implement it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      I’ve wondered this as well, Craymor. Why not make a credit for proper gear use, with a penalty if there’s an incident where the rider isn’t living up to their end of the deal? It would be excellent reinforcement. That said, they’re not in the charity business, so an extra fee for not wearing gear is far more likely.

      If they can raise rates on people with unhealthy lifestyles – smoking, obesity, etc. – it makes sense. Lord knows motorcycle insurance is already more expensive than car insurance.

      • HammSammich

        This is a good question. If your own motorcycle insurance includes coverage for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (Med Pay), it’s generally considered a “Goodwill” coverage with very minimal limits (typically $5,000 or less).

        Ultimately, most of the coverage for a motorcyclist’s injuries following an accident is likely to come from their own medical insurance, or from an at fault driver’s auto liability coverage (assuming the accident involved an errant cager).

        Obviously, another driver’s insurance carrier can’t seek to control your helmet usage (other than by lobbying for compulsory helmet laws). So, you’re ultimately left with your medical insurance carrier, who can certainly ask about motorcycle operation and helmet use, just as they ask your smoking status. Unfortunately, unlike smoking, your doctor can’t determine from a physical examination if you wear a helmet. Accordingly, the information is unlikely to be of sufficient quality to warrant the expense of gathering it.

        Keep in mind that insurance is regulated by the states and rates are compiled using extensive actuarial data. There are myriad factors that contribute to this rating data, and I strongly suspect that a state’s helmet law status is contemplated.

        Notably, ABATE uses the recent example of MI to claim that repealed mandatory helmet laws do not result in an increase in premiums. But that argument is incredibly flawed as ABATE can only look at total premium in force, since the actual rate modeling by insurance companies is proprietary. Total premiums are essentially meaningless, because they are affected by many other factors. Indeed, MI repealed it’s helmet law during an extended soft market period, when premiums were depressed across the industry.

        The fact that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, AAA, and many other Insurance industry organizations strongly support mandatory helmet laws would seem a better indication of how rates are likely to be affected.

        • craymor

          You know I never even considered what is actually covered under my insurance,

          I know when I started out, injures that happened in a car accident were covered by my car insurance (I wrecked my car when I was 16, they kept me in the hospital till my insurance ran out, but that was about seventeen years ago and I know it’s changed since)

          I really didn’t even think that medical might not be covered. I’m going to look at my bike’s insurance policy tomorrow.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I want to say that my health insurance excludes or diminishes benefits for injuries sustained on a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet. If it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure there are policies that do.

    • Gene

      Probably because the insurance company can’t monitor that you’re wearing the helmet or not, unless you actually have an accident.

      I’m sure there’d be a bunch of squids going “I got the wearing-a-helmet discount, but I’m not actually wearing one! NYAAA! PLBTBT!”

      EDIT: I guess they could put in a large penalty clause if you do crash w/o a helmet.

      • Scott-jay

        Like an insurance penalty for un-intentional births?

  • muckluck

    There is something about liberty that makes this country great. I would never go without wearing a helmet myself. We may not all act like responsible adults, but for the government to nanny us and hold our hand like mommy is ridiculous.

  • filly-fuzz

    Americans are funny

  • Keith

    “Sounds like even more evidence we need universal healthcare like the rest of the civilized world.”
    Good idea but too many people in the US have their heads too far up their ass to see this IS a good idea.(not trolling here…)
    As for the gvt regulations, well I guess we should get them to “butt out” of mandating safety regulations for the manufacturing of cars, and drugs, and the toys your kids play with, the food they eat and the poisons the factories spew out,oh, and the safety of airliners and…and…and…
    Let every person buy what they want from unregulated manufacturers and figure out for themselves what is good for them and what could kill them.
    Ya…right!!!! Didn’t work so well for your banks now did it?
    Unregulated trading practice is why a lot of people pay a loan that is worth more than the value of their house.
    What a tempest in a fucking teapot!
    Wear the fucking helmet and let the legislators get on to issues of more importance.
    Just my $.02 form the Great White North where helmet laws are consistent across the whole country.
    “Americans are funny”"
    Yep :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      Keith, do you believe all regulations are the same, or that people who are against this think that all regulations are bad? That seems to be what you’re saying right before you imply people don’t wear helmets because they’re ignorant and need the government to protect them from themselves.

      How that kind of regulation is anything like the industry regulations you cite is beyond me. You might want to make sure your head isn’t squeezed between some butt cheeks as well.

    • RagdollOp

      “Unregulated trading practice is why a lot of people pay a loan that is worth more than the value of their house.”
      Actually, the real reason is because they agreed to a loan on a house. No one forces you to take a mortgage on a house. It is your decision, just like riding a motorcycle has risk.

      Safety standards are not a bad thing. Its great that we have drug testing, but would you want the government to start mandating that you or your family has to take a drug because it is “safer” for you?

      Also, if you really want universal health care then lets do it, but expect me to not want you to drive a car, eat candy, drink alcohol, drink soda, or anything that is risky.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      There’s a very large distinction between the dangers you outline and the danger of riding helmet-less, namely that each one (save the banking example) is something largely beyond the consumer’s control. Outside some sort of regulatory environment, you can’t be expected to know if the car you’re buying has been adequately crash tested, or the plane you’re boarding properly maintained, or the toy you buy has toxic paint, or what that factory is pumping into the air and water. However, you absolutely, 100% have control over whether or not you put something on your head when you ride, and whether that something is a DOT/ECE approved helmet. My state has no helmet requirement, but I still wear one, and feel that anyone who doesn’t is something of an idiot. However, I also resent the notion that someone else can make that decision for me.

  • Ross

    The notion of freedom used in support of “no-helmet” arguments, the freedom to be stupid, is the meanest possible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      I struggle with that, Ross. I think that riding without a helmet is stupid and obviously you do, too. So, it’s easy for us to say, “People want the freedom to be stupid.”

      Non-riders can say the same thing about riders, though. Riding is inherently far more dangerous than driving. From their prospective, we all enjoy the “freedom to be stupid.”

      Everyone has their own perspective. Just because another person’s views differ from mine doesn’t make their ideas wrong or less valid.

      • Ross

        There is a big difference between banning an activity and minimizing its adverse effect on society.

        There is also a big difference between the freedom to do whatever you want, so long as you’re not hurting someone else, and the freedom to do whatever you want with a few constraints that benefit society.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

          What’s the quantifiable benefit to society of helmet laws? I see many assumed benefits, but I’m more interested in numbers significant enough to justify restrictions.

  • Jim Bloomfield

    How about you can ride without a helmet if you check a “Do not resuscitate” box on your drivers license! I’ll bet a few people would think twice.

  • RagdollOp

    Look at what was just released.

    “The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a traffic safety facts research note regarding the use of DOT approved helmets in 2011 and their overall results. According to the research note the percentage of DOT-compliant helmets used in the US increased from 54% in 2010 to a significantly higher 66% in 2011.”

    Here is the most important part!

    “The study also found some other interesting facts like the use of DOT-compliant helmets increased in groups like motorcycle riders from states that do not have a universal helmet law. Also the percentage of riders who do not wear a helmet actually decreased from 32% in 2010 to 26% in 2011.”

    So, even though less states have mandatory laws, according to the study more riders are wearing helmets.

    Here is the link to the article.

    • Ross

      That would mean what you want it to mean if helmets like this were not DOT compliant:


      • RagdollOp

        Isn’t any helmet better than no helmet? Also, in the states that mandate helmets, do they mandate them to be full face helmets? Or do they just state that it has to be a DOT approved helmet?

        • 80-watt Hamster

          DOT helmet.

    • HammSammich

      More riders may be wearing helmets but according to the same study, Helmet laws would be far more effective at getting people to wear them.


      “6 How do helmet laws affect helmet use?
      Studies of the effects of changes in helmet laws show that helmet use approaches 100 percent when all motorcyclists are required to wear helmets, compared with about 50 percent when there is no helmet law or a law applying only to some riders. According to NHTSA, in 2011, 96 percent of motorcyclists observed in states with universal helmet laws were wearing helmets. In states without such laws, helmet use was 55 percent. Use of helmets judged to be compliant with federal safety regulations was 84 percent among motorcyclists in states with universal helmet laws and 50 percent in states without such laws.

      Among recently surveyed motorcyclists, 22 percent of those who said they believe helmets keep riders safer reported not always wearing helmets while riding. However, 94 percent of motorcyclists in states with universal laws reported always wearing helmets, suggesting that education alone would not be as beneficial in increasing helmet use as a universal helmet law.”

      • RagdollOp

        Guess what would be more effective at lowering motorcycle deaths than mandatory helmet laws? Banning motorcycles, would really lower motorcycle deaths but it wouldn’t be right.
        There are risks in life that people take all the time and you can’t use laws to protect people from themselves. What you can do is make sure that people are held responsible for there own actions and that others do not have to pay for those risks. That is why I am against stuff that lumps people in groups like universal healthcare.
        Ultimately, you will have people that try to live healthy and risk free paying for others that are unhealthy and take huge risks. That doesn’t seen fair to me.
        I just want a society that is free to choose their own paths in life but are held responsible for those actions if they go bad.

        • HammSammich

          I agree that in our overly safety-conscious, risk averse society, it is conceivable that motorcycles could be targeted by some who want to ban them outright. But let’s look at the facts, helmet laws undeniably save lives. I appreciate your idealogical argument, but my ultimate concern is that diminished helmet laws (particularly when sought out by motorcycle organizations) will have precisely the effect you’re trying to avoid.

          Hypothetically, it goes like this…ABATE and the AMA manage to do away with all compulsory helmet laws in all states. Cars (with built-in safety equipment mandated by the feds) continue getting safer but at the same time the motorcycle death rates sky rocket. The non-riding population’s perception of motorcycles as dangerous becomes intensified, and eventually they seek to ban parents from riding with their children, which becomes the first step toward an outright ban.

          When they see the rising death statistics, the non-riding public doesn’t see the difference between motorcyclists who wear helmets and those who don’t. Hell, to them the guy in assless chaps with tassles and a bandana is no different from the guy with a full leather track suit and a full face helmet. Accordingly, motorcyclists and the organizations that represent them should be doing everything they can to put a positive face on motorcycling and to keep their membership as safe as possible. That means the AMA should stop quibbling over helmet laws on the principle of people’s right to make bad decisions. Instead they should focus themselves on educating their membership on just how FUCKING STUPID it is for anyone to ride helmetless (regardless of helmet laws), and leave the libertarian political agenda to the political parties that represent that philosophy.

  • luxlamf

    I thought loud pipes saved lives? I see it on all those guys wearing no protection and fake helmets so it must be true. Loud Pipes save lives, not proper gear. Also they now call them “Sleeveless Shirts” instead of Muscle Shirts because All we see 99% of the time are lard asses with “Loud Pipes Save Lives” stickers wearing them.

    • HammSammich

      “All we see 99% of the time are lard asses with “Loud Pipes Save Lives” stickers wearing them.”

      HA! I think you’re on to something here. To the riders who don’t want to wear helmets, their chances of dying in a motorcycle crash without a helmet is statisticaly insignificant compared to their chances of choking on some hot wings or having a massive heart attack.

  • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

    If you want to ride without a helmet, then you should waive any healthcare that exceeds your ability to pay. Hospital staff may have to identify you though. How about a Kevlar collar with your policy number? Or more agreeable I’m sure, a tribal tattoo. Of course, to be legible after the mishap it would need to be applied somewhere within your vest area.

    • RagdollOp

      I like that idea but they need to do the same for all risky behavior.

      An example would be if you are overweight and have a heart-attack then you have to waive any healthcare that exceeds your ability to pay.

      • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

        That works. And the tat only becomes more legible, assuming it isn’t engulfed by a fold. But I’m assuming there’s some overlap, for lack of a better word, in this demographic.

  • RagdollOp

    Actually, helmets would even benefit automobile occupants as well! How many lives would have been saved this year if only we would have had a mandatory automobile helmet law!

    • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

      See the case of Slippery Slope v. Reasonable Person referenced above.