|The California's Motorcycle Helmet Law
Has NOT Caused Lower Fatality and Injury Rates, But it HAS Resulted in Drastically Lower Motorcycle Ridership, Ownership and Usage
Helmet law proponents claim that the 41% reduction in motorcycle deaths, 35% drop in injuries and 42% decrease in accidents, in 1992 and 1993, was due to California's strictly enforced helmet law, which became effective on January 1, 1992. They choose to ignore the unprecedented results of the state's award-winning California Motorcycle Safety Program (CMSP) which was solely responsible for a 43% decrease in motorcycle fatalities, and a 40% drop in injuries from its inception in 1986 to 1991, and continues to contribute to accident, fatality and injury reductions of at least 10% every year.
The numerical decrease in fatalities (before the helmet law) due to the results of the CMSP, a training and educational program for young and inexperienced riders (which was accepted and vigorously supported by all of California's almost 1 million riders and every state motorcycle rights organization) was over twice the amount claimed by the California Highway Patrol as a result of the helmet law. The decrease in injuries from 1986 through 1991 was more 12,258, compared to the 5,829 claimed by the CHP and other pro-helmet law groups, in 1992 and 1993, because of the helmet law.
Just why were there 210 fewer motorcycle deaths, and 5,829 less injuries in 1992 and 1993 as compared to 1991, when the helmet law appiied only to those under 15 1/2 years old? It is very clear that the most pronounced effect of the helmet law was to drastically decrease the number of motorcycle riders, and the miles ridden by those riders who remained.
The real reason fatalities and injuries dropped as much as they did in 1992 was that the number of riders and motorcycle usage decreased even more than the injuries and deaths did, coupled with the continuing six-year historical trend in the reduction in deaths and injuries due to the CMSP. This ridership reduction can be illustrated in at least three ways:
First: The CHP reports that the number of motorcycle accidents was down by 25% in 1992 as compared to 1991 Everyone, including helmet law supporters, agree that motorcycle helmet use had no role in preventing accidents The helmet use requirement did dramatically cut down on the number of people riding and the number of miles ridden. Motorcycle accidents had also been declining at an average of 7% (again, thanks to the CMSP training), so forced helmet use could not have accounted for the unexplained 78% reduction in accidents in 1992. That was simply a reflection of the fact that far fewer people were riding.
Second: in 1992, the first year of the helmet law, new motorcycle sales dropped 20% from the previous year, when new sales had risen a modest 5% from the year before. Overall registrations dropped 9% from 1991 to 1992. This translates into 56,000 fewer motorcycles ridden on California highways! The news for 1993 was equally disturbing, because registrations continued to drop over 25,236 from the totals in 1992. It's no wonder that deaths and injuries decreased with so many fewer motorcycles on the roads.
Third: ABATE of California conducted a random, verifiable survey of its members' riding habits and how the helmet law affected them, and the results from the 1,750 riders who responded were enlightening, predictable. The average decrease in miles ridden, because of the helmet law, was at least 18%.
It is clear that forcing riders to wear questionably effective "safety" helmets did not result in fewer fatalities and injuries (even with a rigidly enforced two-year old helmet law, 303 riders did die, and 10,910 were injured with helmet usage estimated at 99% by the CHP).
The following chart demonstrates the decrease in motorcycle fatalities, from 1986 to 1991 with no helmet law, due to the beneficial effects of the CMSP. It also shows the decrease from 1991 to 1993 of 210 deaths and a projection of what that total would have been by simply continuing the trend of the previous six years and correcting for the decrease in ridership (273 deaths).
Decrease in Motorcycle Fatalities and Injuries
This total would have yielded a lower number of fatalities than claimed by the CHP as resulting from California's helmet law...
Study these FACTS print it out even and now that you've got some added ammo, call the State Sentators on the Transportation Committee. Senators are busy and some like to only talk to their constituents. Don't be put off if you get brushed off on the phone and don't get angry or rude. This really hurts the cause. Just tell them you want to voice your support for AB-244 and then send them a good letter. You've got a ton of facts above.