The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is urging all states to pass laws mandating that motorcycle riders wear helmets that meet federal safety standards.
The agency made that request earlier this month when it updated its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, which is directed at state governments. The NTSB added motorcycle safety to its list.
“State governments are in a unique position to effect the most significant improvement in certain areas of transportation safety,” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement. “Our Most Wanted List spotlights those states that have made noteworthy progress in better protecting the traveling public – and those that have not.”
Federally approved helmets have a hard outer shell, an impact-absorbing lining and a retention system to protect the head.
From 1997 through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities more than doubled during a period when overall highway fatalities declined, according to the NTSB. Although the number of motorcycle fatalities fell in 2009, the 4,400 deaths still outnumber those in aviation, rail, marine and pipeline combined.
And according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.
“The NTSB therefore recommends that everyone aboard a motorcycle be required to wear a helmet that complies with DOT’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218,” the agency said in a press release. “Currently, 20 states, the District of Columbia and four territories have universal helmet laws that apply to all riders. Twenty- seven states and one territory have partial laws the require minors and/or passengers to wear helmets. Three states – Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire – have no helmet laws.”
Such a helmet law is apparently helping in at least one state, New Jersey. The New Jersey State Police just issued a report that said there has been a dramatic drop in deaths from motorcycle accidents, according to The Courier-Post of Camden.
Last year 68 people died in motorcycle accidents in New Jersey. That is a drop from 82 deaths in 2008 and 87 fatalities in 2007. Those numbers mark a substantial drop from the 103 motorcycle deaths in 2006.
New Jersey also has a bill pending that would put additional strictures on motorcyclists. For example, a licensed rider would have to take another test before moving up to a bigger bike. It also mandates that those younger than 18 take a safety course in order to get a license.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.