Motorcycle Helmet Law Debate Rages On – How Would You Fix The Issue?
Do you fall in the “I can decide for myself, thanks very much” camp? Are you firmly entrenched in the “you’ve got to wear a helmet and keep your brains off the public roads” gang?
We’re unsure of where to stand on this issue. It’s hard to argue that personal freedoms aren’t being infringed upon where mandatory helmet laws are concerned, but it’s also a tough argument to make that motorcyclists shouldn’t be forced to bear their fair share of whatever social and medical costs might arise from exercising the freedom to ride without a lid.
To this point, I haven’t read a single article which I believe addresses all the relevant points in a succinct way, so how about coming up with some ideas?
Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books which require all motorcyclists to wear helmets as of June 2011 .
In 27 states, only people under a specific age (generally those between 17 and 20 years of age) are required to wear helmets.
Three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) have no helmet use laws whatever.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study covering 10 states found that when universal helmet laws applying to all riders were repealed, helmet use rates dropped from 99 percent to 50 percent. Those kinds of numbers clearly indicate that there are a lot of riders who only wear a lid if the government says they must.
In states where those types of blanket helmet laws were reinstated, helmet use rates rose to above 95 percent.
The NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey says motorcycle helmet use dropped to 54 percent in June 2010 from 67 percent in June 2009. At the peak, helmet use reached a high of 71 percent back in October 2000 and helmet .usage rates are higher in states which have universal laws to require all riders to use helmets.
In June 2010, 76 percent of motorcyclists in mandatory helmet law states wore them, and that represents a 10 percentage drop when compared to 2009. In states without universal laws, usage was down 15 percentage points, dropping from 55 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2010. Motorcycle helmet use in 2010 was highest in the West, at 75 percent, down from 83 percent in the previous year, and lowest in the Midwest, at 43 percent, down from 67 percent in 2009. Helmet use was 54 percent in both the Northeast and the South, down by 7 percentage points and 11 percentage points, respectively from 2009. The survey only counts helmets that comply with Department of Transportation standards.
STATE-BY-STATE MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE LAWS
|Universal law||Partial law (1)|
|Alaska||17 and younger (2)|
|Arizona||17 and younger|
|Arkansas||20 and younger|
|Colorado||17 and younger and their passengers 17 and younger|
|Connecticut||17 and younger|
|Delaware||18 and younger|
|District of Columbia||X|
|Florida||20 and younger (3)|
|Hawaii||17 and younger|
|Idaho||17 and younger|
|Indiana||17 and younger|
|Kansas||17 and younger|
|Kentucky||20 and younger (3), (4)|
|Maine||17 and younger (4)|
|Minnesota||17 and younger (4)|
|Montana||17 and younger|
|New Mexico||17 and younger|
|North Dakota||17 and younger (5)|
|Ohio||17 and younger (6)|
|Oklahoma||17 and younger|
|Pennsylvania||20 and younger (7)|
|Rhode Island||20 and younger (7)|
|South Carolina||20 and younger|
|South Dakota||17 and younger|
|Texas||20 and younger (3)|
|Utah||17 and younger|
|Wisconsin||17 and younger (4)|
|Wyoming||17 and younger|
(1) Universal laws cover all riders; partial laws cover young riders or some adult riders.
(2) Alaska’s motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers of all ages, operators younger than 18, and operators with instructional permits.
(3) In Florida and Kentucky, the law requires that all riders younger than 21 years wear helmets, without exception. Those 21 years and older may ride without helmets only if they can show proof that they are covered by a medical insurance policy. Texas exempts riders 21 years or older if they either 1) can show proof of successfully completing a motorcycle operator training and safety course or 2) can show proof of having a medical insurance policy.
(4) Motorcycle helmet laws in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also cover operators with instructional/learner’s permits. Maine’s motorcycle helmet use law also covers passengers 17 years and younger and passengers if their operators are required to wear a helmet.
(5) North Dakota’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers traveling with operators who are covered by the law.
(6) Ohio’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first year of licensing and all passengers of operators who are covered by the law.
(7) Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first year of licensing and all passengers. Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first two years of llicensing unless the operator has completed the safety course approved by the Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute.
(1) Based on surveys of motorcyclists using helmets meeting Department of Transportation standards. Surveys conducted in October for 1994-2000 and in June thereafter.
Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Occupant Protection Use Survey, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:
- Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
- Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
- Towing / Pickup
- Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.