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Motorcycles have high performance capabilities, are less stable, and less visible than cars and trucks. And when motorcycles crash their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle so they're more likely to be injured or killed.
Helmets decrease the severity of injury, the likelihood of death, and the overall cost of medical care. They're designed to cushion and protect riders' heads from the impact of a crash. Like seat belts, helmets can't provide total protection against head injury or death, but they do reduce the incidence of both.
Motorcycle crash statistics show that helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing crash fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates an unhelmeted rider is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to incur a nonfatal head injury than a helmeted motorcyclist.
- Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws, 2004)
- Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, Motorcycles, July 2012)
- Wearing a properly fitted helmet can actually improve a rider's ability to hear by reducing wind noise and allowing the rider to hear other sounds. (Motorcycle Safety Foundation)
- Helmets prevent eye injuries from dust, dirt, and debris thrown up by other vehicles on the road. (Motorcycle Safety Foundation)
- Per vehicle mile, motorcyclists are about 30 times as likely as passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash and about five times as likely to be injured. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, Motorcycles, July 2012)
For more information on motorcycle safety, visit the following Web sites:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Secretary of State
Motorcycle Safety Foundation