Arthur Goodwin, senior research associate at the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, said a mandatory universal helmet law is the only measure proven to help reduce motorcycle injuries and fatalities.
"Only one countermeasure is considered proven to be effective at reducing crashes and injuries: state motorcycle helmet use laws. A review of 46 studies suggested motorcycle rider fatality rates were 20 to 40 percent lower in states with universal helmet laws," said Goodwin. "A universal helmet law is without doubt the single most important thing any state can do to reduce injuries and fatalities among motorcycle riders."
For all ages, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that $13.2 billion was saved from 1984 through 1999 because of the use of motorcycle helmets. An additional $11.1 billion would have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
Mandatory helmet use laws for all is the only way to protect young people from serious head injury and death from motorcycle crashes, the researchers concluded.
For more on motor vehicle safety, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Harold Weiss, M.P.H., Ph.D., director, injury prevention unit, and professor, department of preventive social medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand; Arthur Goodwin, M.A., senior research associate, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Nov. 15, 2010 Pediatrics, online
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