Shocking Statistics of Motorcycle Helmet Use

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis, which is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conducted a survey in 2009 on use of motorcycle helmet use. This particular survey is called the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS). The results of the survey showed an increase in the use of DOT certified motorcycle helmets. Nationwide, 67% of motorcycle riders wore DOT certified helmets. The survey conducted in 2005 only showed that 48% of riders wore helmets at all. These helmets were not necessarily DOT certified.

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The survey in 2009 also concluded that states that required helmet wearing had 86% of riders wear helmets. Shockingly, not all states require that its motorcycle riders wear helmets! NOPUS divided the study into regions. The Northeast region had a huge increase in helmet use in 2009 bestofchinsaw. Helmet wearing went from an appalling 16% to 61%. The NOPUS had one last major finding. Rural areas had an increase in helmet wear to 75% of riders. On the other hand, urban areas showed a sizeable decrease in helmet wear by 15%. Only 57% of riders actually wore a helmet in urban areas.

To gather information, the NOPUS actually observes helmet use as it happens at random road sites. Observers are sent to specific sites between the hours of 7am and 6pm. The observers act as eyewitnesses. They do what their title states and only observe riders. The riders do not get stopped for interviews or information. These eyewitnesses are trained to determine what helmets qualify for a DOT helmet. To distinguish a DOT helmet from a non-DOT helmet, the observers looked to see if the helmet covered the motorcyclist’s ears or if the helmet was at least one inch thick. To make sure NOPUS stays up to date with all regions, the sites that are observed change every year.

There is currently no data reported from 2010. In 2009, the following states required riders to wear helmets: Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. This is only 20 of the 50 states that required mandatory helmet wear. WOW! Knowing that the wearing of helmets has been proven to prevent fatal injuries for riders and passengers of motorcycles, it seems crazy that not all 50 states require all riders and passengers to wear a motorcycle helmet. At the time of this survey, the other 30 states either required specific people to wear helmets; such as minors and passengers or did not require any helmet use at all.

It has been proven on many levels that wearing a helmet is beneficial to everyone who is involved with motorcycle riding. Even more, wearing a DOT certified helmet increases a rider’s protection. All in all, if you are going to choose to wear a helmet to protect your head and face; choose to wear a DOT certified helmet!

Bree Thompson is always on top of current statistics when it comes to motorcycle helmet use [].  The 2009 NOPUS results showed an increase use in DOT certified helmets.  NOPUS observes helmet use as it actually happens in real time. Observers watch real people at specific road sites to get their data.  At the time the 2009 NOPUS was conducted, only 20 of the 50 states had a mandatory helmet law [].   What’s wrong with that picture?  If it has been proven that a plain Jane helmet can give some protection, why don’t the other 30 states make DOT certified helmets mandatory!