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How effective are helmets at preventing motorcycle deaths?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents

While Washington is one of many states that require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, some riders still neglect to do so. Others choose to wear helmets when riding in states that mandate their usage but abstain from wearing them when riding in areas without such laws. Yet, research shows that all motorcycle riders would be wise to wear helmets every time they get on the bike, and that failing to do so may have serious, potentially life-altering consequences.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most motorcycle crash injuries and fatalities are preventable, and many would not have occurred had the motorcycle riders who suffered injuries or died been wearing helmets.

How motorcycle helmets save lives and reduce injuries

Studies show that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of a head injury by almost 70%. In 2017, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,872 lives nationwide. However, they could have saved another 749 lives, if more motorcyclists had worn helmets at the time of their crashes. The costs associated with not wearing helmets are also staggering. The United States loses an estimated $1.5 billion annually due to motorcyclists not wearing helmets.

How helmets impact bike passengers versus drivers

Research shows that motorcycle helmets increase safety and lower the chance of death in a crash for motorcycle drivers as well as passengers. When the party driving the bike wears a helmet and crashes, the helmet reduces the rider’s chance of death by 37%. When motorcycle passengers get into crashes and have helmets on, the helmets cut their fatality risks by 41%.

In 2020 alone, more than 5,500 motorcyclists died across the nation and another 180,000 sought treatment for injuries at emergency rooms, highlighting a need for more education and enforcement with regard to helmet use.