NTSB Calls for Nationwide Helmet Laws

The National Transportation Safety Board has called on states to require all motorcycle riders wear helmets. The announcement, made at a news conference in Washington, is part of the NTSB’s “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety” — an initiative directed at state governments.

Recent statistics show a rise in motorcycle fatalities, according to the NTSB.”From 1997 through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities more than doubled during a period when overall highway fatalities declined. Although the number of motorcycle fatalities fell in 2009, the 4,400 deaths still outnumber those in aviation, rail, marine and pipeline combined.”

Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, the Department of Transportation said.

“The number of people who die every week on our roadways [650] is equivalent to five 737 passenger jets crashing every seven days. If that many people were killed in airplane crashes, the American people would be up in arms,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “Although highway fatalities declined last year, we still need a call to arms to reduce the number of these daily, needless tragedies on our highways.”

Right now, 20 states, the District of Columbia and four territories have helmet laws for all riders. In addition, 27 states and one territory have laws requiring minors and passengers to put a helmet on. Three states, Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire, have no helmet laws.


  1. George McNamara says:

    Let those who ride decide, I think they refer to that as freedom of choice.
    I suffered a head injury riding back from Sturgis in 1993 and was in a coma for a week and a half. I was not wearing a helmet and still choose not to when it is legal. In the years since I have met a dozen riders who have had the exact same injury (subdural hemotoma)and thay all had been wearing helmets. It is about your brain colliding with the inside of your skull, not your forehead hitting the pavement that is the root cause of the injury. If they designed a helmet that worked at 55, I would wear one while riding. The statistic they avoid is that helmets are 35% effective in preventing a head injury…most likely the 35% equates to accidents under 15 mph where helmets are sumewhat effective.

  2. Research the NTSB, NHTSA, and the DOT websites and once you cut through their BS, you will notice one big point that they never point out – the majority of motorcyclist fatalities involved riders that WERE wearing helmets. They should work on creating a helmet that works above 15mph and then I might consider wearing one. Besides, taking a guard rail to the chest at highway speeds is going to kill you with or with out a helmet: the only difference will be open or closed casket!

  3. Mark Elliott says:

    The NTSB is leaving out pertinent information. One important detail they have chosen to leave out is this: According to the Department of Transportation, during that same decade, registered motorcycles on the road ALSO doubled. The NTSB has chosen to use the “body count” when nobody else would have. Anyone else, without an agenda, doing the same “research” would use percentages to show growth.

  4. Bill Hickey says:

    “There are 3 type of lies, damn lies, white lies and statistics.”(Samuel Clemens)

    4,400 is a lot of people, but how does that compare to the 100,000+ deaths per year involving only autos.

  5. Kris Larsen says:

    FREEDOM of chose, I think we need a law that everybody on a golf course need to wear a dot.
    helmet a orange vest…..

  6. steve leonard says:

    I prefer to both hear and see everything around me. Helmets limit both senses. I have three helmets. Exhaust noise intrudes into each via the gap at the neck. Then to save hearing, I must place protection in ears to prevent hearing loss. Deaf to the traffic surrounding me. Yet I have quiet mufflers. Motorcycling is inherently risky, I accept the risk. Accident avoidance requires unhindered hearing, sight, and total awareness of traffic, as well as, extreme defensive driving. Wanna save more lives? Tell the staffers at NTSB to put down their cell phones while driving.

  7. Frank Kancso says:

    I think helmet law sucks. I live in NYC and you have to wear a helmet, not only is it the law but you have to protect yourself from the idiots that drive them 4 wheelers, they don’t care about you. Leave us bikers alone, go after the 4 wheelers they’er the one’s that need driving skills. Another law they want to go after in NY is the load pipes. I here it’s a law in Cal. if your pipes are load they give a summins, in NY not only will get a summins but they will impound your bike. Remember load pipes saves lives load radio’s don’t, go after the cars that play load music and impound there cars then maybe we can stop with the load pipes.

  8. I’m all for people having a choice. The accidents will weed out the ones that don’t think it’s important to wear one.

  9. Kris Andres says:

    Less Government is always a good thing. I just wonder about the statistics, are they telling the whole story?? I just wonder, How many of the people who died from head injuries WERE wearing a helmet? I bet it is more than they would like you to know.

  10. larry jones says:

    When the government is trying to pass a law that will save lives i cannot understand anyone would be against helmet laws. My brother in law and a friend I used to ride with are dead because of low speed wrecks and they didn’t think they would ever need a helmet. They both would be alive today if they had worn a helmet. Is your head harder than the pavement?

  11. Government will want to hold our hands to cross the street soon.

  12. Jim Colquhoun says:

    helmet laws suck

  13. Jim Colquhoun says:

    The riders should have the right to choose whether they choose to wear a helmet or not, and not the legislators. I personally like the freedom of not having to wear one. Ask a motorcycle rider why dogs like to have the wind in their hair and they will say is nothing like having the wind blowing through their hair and the freedom of the open road. I lived in a state where one was required and it sucked.

  14. David Sanders says:

    Less Government, teaching more advanced riding skills will really help. Get the DOT to organize that. They don’t care about the crashes only the head injuries and deaths. STOP the CRASHES then there are no injuries.

  15. Bob Tullberg says:

    I will vote for less government, not more. Beware politicians!