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Motorcycle Safety Facts

Did you know? The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) requires that all motorcycle helmets sold in the United States meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 218). This certification is made by the helmet manufacturers, but USDOT conducts compliance testing of a few selected motorcycle helmets to determine whether these helmets meet the federal safety standard. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a searchable database of the helmets the USDOT has tested, which can be found on the Compliance Database Search (nhtsa.gov).  Some motorcycle riders continue wearing unsafe helmets that do not meet FMVSS 218. Most of these helmets are sold as novelty items and circumvent FMVSS 218’s requirements. In some cases, some motorcyclists purchase these helmets in the mistaken belief that they offer protection. However, many people who wear these novelty helmets know that they are unsafe, but wear them anyway. Through further education, we can help riders choose compliant helmets so that we can continue to save lives. 

Helmet use among motorcyclists is becoming more mainstream and accepted. The table below shows this trend for the past five years. 

Year Total Helmeted Unhelmeted Unknown Helmet Use Percent Known Helmeted* Lives Saved at Current Helmet Use** Additional Lives Savable at 100% Helmet Usage**
2015 55 41 11 3 79 26 4
2016 74 59 12 3 83 36 5
2017 54 44 8 2 85 27 3
2018 58 46 8 4 85
2019 56 38 3 15 93

*Percent Based Only Where Helmet Use Was Known 
**Lives Saved Estimates (Sum of columns may not equal other published numbers due to rounding) 
Note: 2019 Lives Saved Data is Currently Not Available

While this is good news, more lives can be saved by wearing good helmets that meet recognized testing standards.