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 Traffic Fatalities by State: 2015 Preliminary Data

This report provides a first look at 2015 motorcyclist fatalities nationally and by state. Motorcyclist fatalities in the United States are expected to have increased by 10 percent, compared with 2014. The report is based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report also examines recent trends in motorcyclist crash patterns and fatalities. In addition, it outlines efforts to further reduce motorcyclist crashes and fatalities.

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2014 Preliminary Data

This report provides a first look at 2014 motorcyclist fatalities nationally and by state, based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Motorcyclist fatalities in the United States are expected to have decreased by about 2 percent, compared with 2013.

The report also examines changes in motorcyclist crash patterns and fatalities over the past decades and three-year state trends. In addition, it outlines efforts to further reduce motorcyclist crashes and fatalities.

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2013 Preliminary Data

In early 2014, GHSA asked its member state highway safety offices to provide their preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for 2013, as they had done the prior four years. All 50 states and the District of Columbia responded. Several states suggested why their numbers had increased or decreased.

Based upon the preliminary data provided, GHSA projects that the number of motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States in 2013 decreased approximately 7 percent, compared with 2012 numbers, and will be on par with 2011 fatalities.

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