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Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Lives, Study Shows

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 4,500 motorcycle crash fatalities per year in the U.S. and roughly 37% of those deaths involve head injuries.

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Three states – New Hampshire, Iowa and Illinois – have no helmet laws, and 29 states require helmets only for young (below 18 or below 21) or newly licensed riders. Not surprisingly, motorcycle helmet laws reduce fatalities and serious head injuries.

In recent research from the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University, Lerner Graduate Fellow Mary Helander shows that states with helmet laws had a 33 percent lower head-related fatality rate compared to states without helmet laws from 1999-2019. During that 20-year period, there were approximately 7,000 excess deaths in states without helmet laws compared to what they may have expected with helmet laws in effect (see graphic below).

Read more about this study in the research brief, “Motorcycle Fatality Rates Due to Head Injuries are Lower in States with Helmet Laws.”

The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, which is based in Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, provides regular research briefs related to the pandemic and other public health issues.

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