National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, DC -- As motorcyclists throughout the country observe May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker stresses the need for motorcycle safety and reminds motorcyclists that Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218-compliant helmets reduce injuries and save lives.
Since 1997, motorcycle fatalities have increased 127 percent. Annually, the number of motorcycle deaths is more than double the number of people killed in all aviation, rail, marine, and pipeline accidents combined.
4,810 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2006. Approximately 41 percent (1,957) of those killed were not wearing a helmet.
"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." DOT-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.
Currently, 20 States and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. Twenty-seven States have partial laws, and 3 States (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) do not have any helmet law.
"Fatalities in all other modes of transportation have decreased. It is imperative that we reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries immediately," urged Rosenker
In 2006, 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.
In September 2007, the Safety Board held a Board meeting on motorcycle safety and issued the following recommendations regarding motorcycle helmets:
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.
"Just like seat belts for passenger vehicle occupants, helmets are the number one defense against injury and death in the event of a motorcycle crash. I urge all riders to use a DOT compliant helmet whenever traveling on their motorcycles." Rosenker said.
The Safety Board also issued recommendations to address other motorcycle safety countermeasures and to improve data collection on motorcycle accident statistics.
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 aredetermined 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.
NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
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.