The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that, from 2002 to 2017, more than 25,000 lives have been saved by wearing motorcycle helmets. More recent estimates are not available. Motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.
According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), use of Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant helmets by all motorcyclists (riders and passengers) was 64.9% in 2021. Although helmet use has increased by 12.5% since 2002, use has decreased 8.6% since 2018. Latest estimates show that helmet use has decreased from 69% in 2020 to 64.9% in 2021.
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Observed use of DOT-compliant helmets in states with universal helmet laws was significantly higher than in states with weak or no helmet laws (86.1% compared to 53.4%). Use of non-compliant helmets is also greater in states with universal helmet laws, at 9.8% versus 3.5%, respectively.
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National Center for Statistics and Analysis (2022, March). Motorcycle helmet use in 2021 – Overall results (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 813 270). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2019, 2013, 2010, 2007). Lives saved in (2017, 2012, 2008, 2006) by restraint use and minimum-drinking-age laws (Traffic Safety Facts Crash Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 683, 811 851, 811 153, 810 869). Washington, DC: NHTSA.