Registrations and new motorcycle purchases continue to skyrocket, bringing more motorcycles onto increasingly crowded roadways. (4) With the America's increasing income disparity, continued economic recession and elevated gas prices, coupled with a relatively low initial investment when purchasing a motorcycle, low cost of maintenance, higher gas efficiency and easier parking, motorcycles have become a cost-effective strategy for transportation. These assure continued presence of motorcycles on American roadways, as well as increased use in less than optimal riding conditions. However, by attending to factors impeding progress, injury rates may be stabilized.
While several factors limit progress (substance use while riding, lack up uptake of methods to increase conspicuity of motorcycles, continued risk-taking behaviors associated with riding, etc.), one of the most important factors is resistance against helmet use and helmet laws. Evidence that helmets save lives is quite strong, at this point. (7) In addition, evidence indicates that this is not simply an issue of personal liberty. The economic and social costs of motorcycle accidents affect all Americans, not simply those involved in the crash. (5,6)
Research has shown quite convincingly that when universal helmet laws are instituted, helmet use increases, and when these laws are repealed, helmet use decreases. (9) Additionally, evidence indicates that when helmet laws are repealed, motorcycle deaths and injuries increase. (9) In addition, when economic costs are calculated, states with universal helmet laws save, on average, triple the costs per registered rider compared to states without mandatory helmet laws. (9)