Current State Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Fatality Rates

The percentage of people killed in motorcycle crashes in 2011 who were not wearing helmets is higher in states without a mandatory helmet law.

  • More than 8 million motorcycles were registered in the United States in 2011, and nearly 500,000 motorcycles were sold in 2012.
  • In 2011, 4,612 motorcyclists were killed in crashes and 81,000 were injured. Per miles traveled, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash.
  • Wearing helmets and getting the proper licensing and training have been shown to reduce injuries and deaths from motorcycle crashes.
  • Nineteen states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently require all riders to wear helmets.
  • Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire do not require anyone to wear a helmet, regardless of age.
  • The remaining 28 states require riders of a specific age—usually those under age 18 or 21—to wear helmets.
  • According to a 2012 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) Survey, conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
    • In states with universal helmet laws, 89 percent of the motorcyclists observed were wearing helmets
    • In states with partial helmet use requirements or no laws, 49 percent were observed wearing helmets.

For more information on this article from the National Conference of State Legislators, including data sources, please click here.