Motorcyclists

In 1967, the federal government required states to enact universal motorcycle helmet laws to qualify for certain highway safety funds. By 1975, all but three had complied. In 1976, Congress revoked federal authority to assess penalties for noncompliance, and states began to weaken helmet laws to apply only to young or novice riders.

Currently, about half the states require helmets for all motorcyclists. Most other states require helmets for certain riders, and a few have no helmet law. GHSA urges all states to adopt a universal motorcycle helmet law and vigorously enforce existing laws.

  • 47 states, D.C., Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a helmet law for motorcyclists.
    • 19 states, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a universal helmet law, requiring helmets for all riders.
    • 28 states and Guam require helmets for specific riders.
  • 3 states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) do not have a motorcycle helmet law.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on helmet laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
Currently, about half the states require helmets for all motorcyclists. Most other states require helmets for certain riders, and a few have no helmet law. 

Motorcyclist Safety

Motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities. In 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists lost their lives on America's roads. In states without universal helmet laws, 11.5 times as many motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets.1

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides these statistics on motorcycle safety in the United States:

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