Motorcycle Helmet Study
A new Highway Loss Data Institute analysis of insurance claims data examines the effectiveness of universal helmet laws covering all riders, and another looks at the impact of state-mandated training for young riders. However, the study also has some surprising results–young riders taking a training course are not statistically safer than those who do not.
According to the analysis, motorcyclists in states that require all riders to wear helmets are less likely to file insurance claims for medical treatment after collisions, compared with riders in states without helmet laws or where the laws apply to some, but not all, riders. Helmets reduce head injuries, the leading cause of death among unhelmeted riders.
73% of riders surveyed by the HLDI said they always wear a helmet, and 9% said they often wear one. 5% said they never do. Riders of sport, supersport, and sport-touring bikes were most likely to say they always wear a helmet. Riders 18-29 and those 50 and older were more likely to say they always ride helmeted, compared with motorcyclists in their 30s and 40s.
57% of respondents who don’t always wear helmets said they would wear them if required by state law. About half of motorcyclists surveyed said they don’t favor universal helmet laws, mainly because they want to choose for themselves. Still, 76% said helmets make riders safer.
The frequency of insurance collision claims for riders younger than 21 is 10% higher in states that require riders this age to take a training course before they become eligible for a license to drive a motorcycle, compared with states that don’t require training.
Although this difference isn’t statistically significant, it contradicts the notion that training courses reduce crashes. A potential explanation, according to the HLDI, is that riders in some states are fully licensed once they finish training. This might shorten the permit period so that riders end up with full licenses earlier than if training weren’t mandated, speculates the HLDI.