NTSB recommends universal helmet laws

November 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The NTSB wants all states to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in deaths since the late 1990s.

Illinois is one of three states that has no helmet law. Neither does Iowa nor New Hampshire. Twenty-seven other states require some- but not all- motorcyclists to wear helmets.

While traffic fatalities have declined overall, motorcycle deaths have increased, according to the NTSB, which held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss state requirements. The NTSB recommended "everyone aboard a motorcycle be required to wear a helmet that complies with DOT's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218."

The NTSB said there were 4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

Only 20 states require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets under a universal law. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety breaks down the requirements state-by-state.

Also, a recent report by a federal research panel indicated that mandatory motorcycle helmets could save about 450 lives a year.

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