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.