Date of Hearing: April 14, 1997

                            Kevin Murray, Chairman

             AB 1412 (Ducheny) - As Introduced:  February 28, 1997

 SUBJECT:  Motorcycles:  helmets:  drivers

 SUMMARY:  This measure exempts drivers and passengers which are 18 years of  
age or older from the requirement to wear safety helmets while riding  
motorcycles, motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles.

 EXISTING LAW requires all drivers and passengers to wear safety helmets while  
riding motorcycles, motor-driven cycles (mopeds), and motorized bicycles.

 FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown potential increase public costs for short- and  
long-term medical care to treat, rehabilitate and maintain head-injured  
motorcycle riders and passengers which have no insurance or when costs exceed  
insurance coverage. 

 COMMENTS:  The requirement for all motorcycle riders to wear safety helmets  
was enacted on January 1, 1992, by AB 7 (Floyd), Chapter 32, Statutes of 1991.
Since that time, legislation to repeal or limit the requirement to younger  
riders has been introduced every year, and to date, has failed to pass out of  
the Legislature.

Generally, the proponents of repealing or limiting the helmet requirements  
have argued that better rider training, including that required by law for  
license applicants 18 years of age and younger, and a decline in the number of  
motorcycle riders due primarily to the helmet requirement, are responsible for  
a decline in the number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities.

Opponents of the repeal or restriction of the helmet requirements cite  
California Highway Patrol (CHP) statistics and studies conducted by the UCLA  
School of Public Health which indicate that fatalities and the severity of  
head-related injuries in motorcycle accidents have declined significantly  
since the enactment of the law, and express concern about the amount of public  
funding necessary to provide short- and long-term care for uninsured or  
under-insured injured riders. 

 California Motorcycle Safety Program  The CMSP was enacted in 1986, and  
provides training for new motorcycle drivers.  Subsequent legislation requires  
applicants for motorcycle driver licenses to complete the CMSP prior to  
issuance of a license.

The CMSP annual report cites a continuing decline in the number of motorcycle  
accidents and fatalities declining from a peak of 40 to 12 accidents per 1,000  
riders.  Accidents among younger drivers under 25 years of age have declined
from 146 to 72 accidents per 1,000 riders.

According to the report, fatalities among all riders declined 67 percent, and  
among riders under 18 years of age, 88 percent, between 1986 and 1995. 
During  the same period, motorcycle registrations declined 25 percent.

Proponents cite the apparent success of the CMSP as the factor responsible for  
the declining number and severity of accidents, and not the statutory helmet  

 Decline in Registration:  Since 1985, motorcycle registrations have declined  
in California from a high in of just over 700,000 in 1986 to the current level  
of about 500,000.  According to the CMSP annual report, this long-term trend  
may be attributable to an aging population, changing attitudes and other  

Proponents of this measure, however, claim that the enactment of the safety  
helmet requirement in 1992 is responsible for a continuing decline in the  
sale, registration and use of motorcycles in California which has a financial  
impact to the state by reducing registration fees, sales tax and other  

 UCLA Study:  The UCLA Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center  
conducted a study in 1994, intended to show the impacts of the enactment of  
the helmet requirements in California.  The study was funded by the California  
Office of Traffic Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and  
involved the CHP, the California Coroner's Association, the Emergency Medical  
Service Authorities of 11 counties, and 28 hospitals, and was published in the  
Journal of the American Medical Association.  It found, in part:

  1. Helmet use increased in California from 50 percent prior to enactment of the helmet law to over 95 percent afterwards.
  2. Between 1991 (pre-helmet law) and 1992 (post-helmet law), statewide fatalities in motorcycle accidents declined 37.5 percent.
  3. Non-fatally injured riders treated in the sample hospitals decreased 35 percent.
  4. Head injuries among fatally and non-fatally injured riders decreased over 50 percent.
  5. The overall number of cervical spine injuries did not change.
  6. Over 80% of the injured riders were over the age of 21.
Opponents cite these statistics, noting that the decline in fatalities and severe head-related injuries was much greater than the reduction in accidents or motorcycle registrations. Public Costs: Opponents of this measure cite the continuing increase in the costs of providing public health services to those who are uninsured or under- insured for medical services. They claim that the repeal or reduction in the age requirement for helmet use will increase the demand for publicly-funded short- and long-term health care. In one study, the University of California Davis Medical Center determined that 82 percent of the hospital charges for motorcycle head injuries were paid with public funds, and that 75 percent of the patients surveyed had no health insurance. In another study, the San Diego County Trauma Registry found that 40 percent of the costs of treating injured motorcyclists who failed to wear helmets was paid by public funds in the period 1988-90. REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION: Support ABATE #34 Hanford Chapter California Motorcycle Dealers Association California Motorcyclist Association Inaternational House of Pancakes #688, Sonoma Northern California Harley-Davidson Dealers' Association Southern California Harley-Davidson Dealers Association Opposition Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Association of Insurance Companies Automobile Club of Southern California California Medical Association California Rehabilitation Association California State Automobile Association California State Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians Kaiser Permanante Medical Care Program Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company Organization of Area Boards on Developmental Disabilities Personal Insurance Federation St. Jude Medical Center Santa Clara Valley Medical Center State Farm Insurance Companies United Cerebral Palsy Associations Analysis prepared by: John Stevens / atrns / (916)445-8800

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