Motorcycle Safety Overview

Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle riderUpdated February 2014

There were 4,462 motorcyclists killed in 2009 and another 90,000 were injured in traffic crashes. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,829 motorcyclist in 2008, and that 823 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. Helmet use can decrease the severity of injury or the likelihood of death in the event of an accident, and also can reduce the overall cost of medical care. NHTSA estimates that helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Helmet use also may lead to a decline in motorcycle thefts; potential thieves are less likely to have helmets and a rider without a helmet may alert the police to a possible theft. Some groups believe helmet laws are a form of government intrusion and believe safety training for motorcyclists is a better way to keep motorcyclists safe and prevent injuries.

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