NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB RECOMMENDS LEGISLATION TO MANDATE ALL MOTORCYCLISTS USE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FMVSS 218-COMPLIANT HELMETS

September 11 , 2007

Washington, DC-The National Transportation Safety Board today issued recommendations to states to require all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218-compliant helmets.

Currently, only 20 states, the District of Columbia, and 4 territories have universal helmet laws requiring all riders to wear a helmet. Twenty-seven states and 1 territory have partial laws that require minors and/or passengers to wear such helmets. Three states have no helmet laws.

"The facts are very clear- head injuries are a leading cause of deaths in motorcycle crashes," said NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "The most important step riders can take in terms of protecting themselves and staying alive is to wear a DOT- compliant helmet every time they ride."

FMVSS 218-compliant helmets are designed with a hard outer shell, an impact-attenuating liner, and a retention system to protect the head, especially the brain, in a variety of impact scenarios.

"Universal helmet laws have proven effective in the mitigation of injuries and the prevention of fatalities. Implementing these recommendations will take strong leadership in the States," Rosenker said. "I hope that the Governors and legislative leaders in the States will act promptly and decisively to implement the universal helmet laws recommended today by the Board."

Since 1997, motorcycle fatalities have increased 127 percent. Last year, 4,810 motorcyclists died in crashes, and accounted for more than 10 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities.

Last September, the Safety Board held a public forum and gathered information on ongoing motorcycle research and initiatives, as well as countermeasures that may reduce the likelihood of motorcycle accidents and fatalities. The meeting included participants representing government, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcyclist associations, state motorcycle rights organizations, researchers, trauma physicians, law enforcement, and insurance companies.

As a result of today's meeting, the National Transportation Safety Board issued the following recommendations:

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Reprioritize the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety recommendations based on objective criteria, including known safety outcomes.

Following completion of the reprioritization of the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety, implement an action plan for states and others, such as federal agencies, manufacturers, insurance organizations, and advocacy groups, to carry out those recommendations that are determined to be of high priority.

To the Federal Highway Administration:

Following the 2007 Motorcycle Travel Symposium, develop guidelines for the states to use to gather accurate motorcycle registrations and motorcycle vehicle miles traveled data. The guidelines should include information on the various methods to collect registrations and vehicle miles traveled data and how these methods can be put into practice.

To the three states with no motorcycle helmet laws:

Require that all persons shall wear a Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218-compliant motorcycle helmet while riding (operating), or as a passenger on any motorcycle.

To the 27 states and 1 territory with partial motorcycle helmet laws:

Amend current laws to require that all persons shall wear a Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218-compliant motorcycle helmet while riding (operating), or as a passenger on any motorcycle.

To the 8 states, the District of Columbia, and the 4 territories with universal motorcycle helmet laws/regulations not specifically requiring FMVSS 218- compliant helmets:

Amend current laws to specify that all persons shall wear a Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218-compliant motorcycle helmet while riding (operating), or as a passenger on any motorcycle.

To all states:

Provide information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the effectiveness of your motorcycle safety efforts to assist NHTSA with its effort to reprioritize the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety recommendations.

Full copies of the recommendation letters will be available in a few days on the NTSB website, www.ntsb.gov.

NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
202-314-6100
williat@ntsb.gov

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.