From 1997–2009, annual motorcycle deaths doubled from 2,116 to 4,462. On average, 12 motorcyclists were killed every day. Although motorcycles represent only 3 percent of the vehicles on our nation’s roads, they account for 13 percent of highway deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. This alarming trend of increased motorcycle fatalities and injuries must be reversed.
Using a motorcycle helmet that complies with U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 is perhaps the single greatest measure a rider or passenger can take to reduce the risk of injury or death. Helmets meeting this standard are designed with a hard outer shell, an impact-attenuating liner, and a retention system to protect the head, especially the brain. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.
It’s also important to look at ways to prevent crashes from occurring in the first place. The National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety contains recommendations that can be implemented by Federal agencies, states, manufacturers, insurance organizations, and advocacy groups to make cycling safer. The NAMS should be used as the basis for identifying the most effective programs for addressing crash mitigation and injury prevention.
For more information on the safety recommendations in these reports that address this Most Wanted List issue area, see: http://www.ntsb.gov/safetyrecs/private/QueryPage.aspx.