Accident Rates in all 50 States

A Comparison of Motorcycle Accident and Fatality Rates between Mandatory Helmet Law States and Voluntary Helmet Use States.

Summary

The data used for this comparison was obtained from the 1994 Motorcycle Statistical Annual, Motorcycle Industry Council, Inc., 1994. The state motorcycle accident statistics were divided between states with a mandatory helmet law and those without. This data is found in Tables 6 and 7.

Table 1.
Summary of 1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics.

  Registrations Reported
Accidents
Fatalities Accidents Per
10,000
Registrations
Fatalities Per
100 Accidents
Mandatory
Helmet Use
2,352,293 52,270 1,557 222.10 2.98
Voluntary
Helmet Use
1,497,923 29,062 844 194.02 2.90
Total 3,850,216 81,332 2,401 211.24 2.95

The only variable used in this comparison is a mandatory helmet law. The results show that accident and fatality rates are higher, overall, in states with mandatory helmet laws. The total number of accidents and fatalities are also higher in these same states (Table 1).

Table 2.
Summary of 1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics as a Percentage.

  Registrations Reported
Accidents
Fatalities
Mandatory
Helmet Use
61% 64% 65%
Voluntary
Helmet Use
39% 36% 35%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Mandatory helmet law states account for sixty-one percent (61 %) of total motorcycle registrations. They account for sixty-four percent (64%) of the accidents and sixty-five percent (65%) of the fatalities.

While this data does not confirm that mandatory helmet laws lead to an increase in accidents and fatalities, it does show that the absence of a mandatory helmet law does not result in the same (Table 2).

Table 3.

Comparison of:
motorcycles registered in mandatory helmet law states (2,352,293) to
motorcycles registered in voluntary helmet usage states (1,497,923).

In 1993, sixty-one percent (61%) of all registered motorcycles were registered in states having mandatory helmet laws. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all registered motorcycles were registered in states with either no helmet law or a modified helmet law (Table 3).

Table 4.

Comparison of:
motorcycle accidents in mandatory helmet law states (52,270) to
motorcycle accidents in voluntary helmet usage states (29,062).

During this same year, mandatory helmet law states accounted for sixty-four percent (64%) of total reported accidents. Thirty-six percent (36%) of reported motorcycle accidents occurred in states with either no helmet law or a modified helmet law (Table 4).

Table 5.

Comparison of:
motorcycle fatalities in mandatory helmet law states (1,557) to
motorcycle fatalities in voluntary helmet usage states (844).

Sixty-five percent (65%) of motorcycle fatalities occurred in states having mandatory helmet laws. The remaining thirty-five percent (35%) of motorcycle fatalities occurred in states with either no helmet law or a modified type of helmet law, allowing adults the choice of helmet use (Table 5).

Table 6.
Comparison of Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accident Statistics with Comparable Voluntary Helmet Use States.

State Registrations Reported
Accidents
Fatalities Accidents Per
10,000
Registrations
Fatalities Per
100 Accidents
Pennsylvania* 164,977 2,758 113 167.17 4.1
Delaware 8,714 243 8 278.86 3.3
Illinois 182,238 4,025 104 220.87 2.6
Iowa 118,674 1,500 31 126.40 2.1
Maine 28,836 553 9 191.77 1.6
Ohio 223,182 3,914 127 175.37 3.2
Wisconsin 169,499 2,243 40 132.33 1.8
Total 3,850,216 81,332 2,401 211.24 2.95

* Mandatory Helmet law.

Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin were selected for this comparison for three reasons. None have a mandatory helmet law. Their latitude is similar to Pennsylvania’s, thus controlling for length of riding season. And the number of registered motorcycles within each state is somewhat comparable to those registered in Pennsylvania.

Delaware and Maine are represented due to their geographic proximity to Pennsylvania (Table 6).

Table 7.
1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics,
Voluntary Helmet Use States.

State Registrations Reported
Accidents
Fatalities Accidents Per
10,000
Registrations
Fatalities Per
100 Accidents
Alaska 11,844 146 3 123.27 2.1
Arizona 53,258 2,262 66 424.72 2.9
Colorado 87,869 1,771 47 201.55 2.7
Connecticut 51,266 1,104 44 215.35 4.0
Delaware 8,714 243 8 278.86 3.3
Hawaii 16,381 539 22 329.04 4.1
Idaho 32,981 412 26 124.92 6.3
Illinois 182,238 4,025 104 220.87 2.6
Indiana 94,000 2,251 57 239.47 2.5
Iowa 118,674 1,500 31 126.40 2.1
Kansas 44,984 796 19 176.95 2.4
Maine 28,836 553 9 191.77 1.6
Minnesota 114,548 1,245 34 108.69 2.7
Montana 19,151 317 21 165.53 6.6
New Hampshire 32,736 571 17 174.43 3.0
New Mexico 31,217 1,079 36 345.65 3.3
North Dakota 17,498 169 7 96.58 4.1
Ohio 223,182 3,914 127 175.37 3.2
Oklahoma 54,899 937 35 170.68 3.7
Rhode Island 18,778 164 9 87.34 5.5
South Carolina 23,522 1,470 47 624.95 3.2
South Dakota 26,173 320 12 122.26 3.8
Utah 22,893 779 17 340.28 2.2
Wisconsin 169,499 2,243 40 132.33 1.8
Wyoming 12,782 252 6 197.15 2.4
Voluntary
Helmet States
1,497,923 29,062 844 194.02 2.9

Table 8.
1993 State Motorcycle Accident Statistics,
Mandatory Helmet Law States.

State Registrations Reported
Accidents
Fatalities Accidents Per
10,000
Registrations
Fatalities Per
100 Accidents
Alabama 40,437 1,099 34 271.78 3.1
Arkansas 13,792 682 23 494.49 3.4
California 558,571 10,650 303 190.67 2.8
Florida 161,966 5,071 179 313.09 3.5
Georgia 61,682 1,714 51 277.88 3.0
Kentucky 31,229 928 33 297.16 3.6
Louisiana 65,162 1,065 39 163.44 3.7
Maryland 48,000 2,621 45 546.04 1.7
Mass. 75,168 1,700 44 226.16 2.6
Michigan 119,845 3,218 52 268.51 1.6
Mississippi 14,796 547 15 369.69 2.7
Missouri 126,083 1,262 28 100.09 2.2
Nebraska 18,882 336 6 177.95 1.8
Nevada 19,867 693 16 348.82 2.3
New Jersey 84,430 1,850 42 219.12 2.3
New York 160,463 4,016 114 250.28 2.8
North Carolina 61,374 2,106 74 343.14 3.5
Oregon 60,599 431 28 71.12 6.5
Pennsylvania 164,977 2,758 113 167.17 4.1
Tennessee 83,342 1,550 56 185.98 3.6
Texas 190,000 3,984 157 209.68 3.9
Vermont 14,364 130 13 90.50 10.0
Virginia 61,027 1,276 31 209.09 1.6
Washington 96,539 1,740 40 180.24 2.3
West Virginia 18,593 523 19 281.29 3.6
District of
Columbia
1,105 320 2 2,895.93 0.6
Mandatory
Helmet States
2,352,293 52,270 1,557 222.21 2.98