NTSB Will Campaign for Tougher Motorcycle Helmet Law

As a way to further limit highway deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will campaign to have all 50 states adopt or toughen laws that require motorcyclists to wear helmets, reports The Wall Street Journal. Florida motorcycle riders who are adequately insured are not required to wear a helmet.

As it stands now, 20 states and the District of Columbia require riders to wear helmets. Twenty-seven states, including Florida, have partial laws that require some people to wear helmets some of the time. Three states have no requirements for helmet use. They include New Hampshire, Illinois, and Iowa.

When the law was loosened in 2000, Florida saw an increase in motorcycle deaths. Nationwide, fatal motorcycle crashes reached 5,300 in 2008, doubling from 1998. That averages a dozen deaths a day from motorcycle accidents, in part, because of a lack of any consistent helmet laws.

The federal proposal would not only save lives, but save us all money. It’s estimated that the cost for an average unhelmeted rider to be in an accident is about $310,000, largely due to the resulting head and spinal cord injury. A helmeted rider, by comparison, has roughly $71,000 worth of medical bills.

The NTSB is so serious about making helmets mandatory that it is adding the motorcycle safety issue to its “Most Wanted” list of improvements. The NTSB plans to pressure states and testify about the need for new, tougher laws through the use of public-service announcements.