NTSB Urges Helmet Laws for All Motorcyclists in U.S.

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to adopt more stringent motorcycle helmet laws for all motorcyclists. Currently only 20 states and Washington D.C. require protective head gear for all motorcyclists. This recommendation comes on the heels of news that 12 motorcyclists die each day in the U.S., often as a result of head trauma, in motorcycle crashes.

In addition to the 20 states that require helmet usage for all riders, another 27 states require helmets for some riders such as children on motorcycles. The remaining three states, Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire do not currently have a helmet law for motorcyclists.

The NTSB is pushing hard for stricter safety regulations. Motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise even as other transportation fatalities, including car accidents, are on the decline. According to NTSB data, motorcycles account for only three percent of road traffic but motorcycle riders are killed in 13 percent of motor vehicle fatalities.

Motorcycle safety advocates argue that helmets, especially helmets that meet the federal regulations, save lives. The helmets that meet the Department of Transportation regulations are 37 percent effective at preventing motorcycle accident fatalities, according to the USA Today report.

Head injuries present a serious risk to motorcycle riders. Without the added protection of a helmet, victims involved in motorcycle accidents often succumb to serious brain injuries, including concussions, skull fractures, brain damage and severe bleeding. A minor accident involving slow speeds can be fatal to a rider who lacks the added protection of a helmet.

The NTSB is also encouraging motorcycle riders to consider the quality of the helmet. Not all helmets are up to the federal standards. Many helmets lack the necessary padding and strength to qualify under the federal regulations. These helmets can crack or disintegrate upon impact with another car or the pavement. It's recommended that motorcycle riders check each helmet to determine compliance with the regulations prior to use.

Many motorcycle enthusiasts, however, argue that there is no evidence that universal helmet laws reduce the number of accident fatalities. Many motorcycle riders will continue to ignore the helmet laws, instead favoring the "wind in my hair" feeling. Many states have also recently repealed helmet laws that apply universally in favor of helmet laws that apply only to children under the age of 18.

A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will be able to provide legal advice to an accident victim or his or her family following a serious or fatal motorcycle accident.