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Nearly 100 Percent of Motorcyclists Comply With Universal Helmet Laws

A universal motorcycle helmet law is an effective and efficient traffic safety law. When a state passes a helmet law covering all riders, helmet use rates rise nearly to 100 percent. One reason is that law enforcement officers can easily determine if a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet. But states need the right law - a law requiring everyone who rides to wear a helmet. Age-specific laws that require only minors to wear helmets have little or no impact and are virtually impossible to enforce. Likewise, helmet laws for all riders that are tied to licensing or rider education requirements are equally difficult to enforce and create burdens on law enforcement.

Helmet laws immediately increase helmet use. When a helmet law is enacted, nearly all motorcyclists wear helmets. Statistics support the effectiveness of universal helmet laws.

In a review of nine separate studies, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) found:

  • 92 percent to 100 percent helmet use in states with helmet laws covering all
  • 42 percent to 59 percent helmet use under limited laws. 27

In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the following in observational studies:

  • In universal helmet law states, helmet use is close to 100 percent. 28
  • In states without helmet use laws or with laws that only cover a specific segment of the population, helmet use is between 28 percent and 40 percent.29

And here's what a study examining data from 10 states found:

  • When motorcycle helmet legislation was repealed, the helmet use rate dropped from 99 percent to 50 percent.30
  • When the universal law was reinstated, the helmet use rate rose to above 95

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