Are Helmet Laws Protecting Young Motorcyclists?

The trend in state mandatory motorcycle helmet laws is away from universal coverage to partial coverage statutes that require only young riders to wear a helmet. Among partial coverage states substantial variation exists in this age requirement. How effective are motorcycle helmet laws at reducing young motorcyclist fatalities? Fixed effects negative binomial regression models are estimated using panel data for all 50 states and Washington DC, for the period 1975–2004. The dependent variable is the number of motorcyclist fatalities 15–20 years of age. Results show that universal helmet laws are associated with fatality rates that are 31% lower among motorcyclists 15–20 years of age. In contrast, partial coverage laws targeting young motorcyclists are statistically unrelated to a reduction in the fatality rates of this age group. The long-term consequence of the move away from universal helmet laws will be an increased level of risk faced by young motorcyclists. In many states, mandatory motorcycle helmet laws are not protecting even young riders.


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  • Accession Number: 01055215
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 6 2007 11:03AM