Motorcycle helmet use on the rise. Will motorcycle crash deaths decline?

Preliminary data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is encouraging with motorcycle helmet usage at an all-time high.

To put this in perspective, 2005 helmet usage rates were less than 50%. In 2009 reported rates were approximately 67% which is likely to mean fewer motorcycle crash deaths both locally in Maryland and the District of Columbia and nationwide.

This information is derived from NOPUS or the National Occupant Protection Use Survey conducted by NHTSA.

The 2008 rate was 63% so any increase in helmet-use is welcome altough the 2009 rate is still below the peak of more than 70% in 2000.

NOPUS distinguishes between those helmets which comply with federal safety regulations and those which do not.

Obviously usage rates were highest in states with mandatory helmet rates going from 78% to 86%. In states which do not require helmets rates went from 50% to 55%.

 Interestingly rural helmet use is much higher in rural areas as opposed to urban ones. In fact urban use fell 15% to a disturbingly low 57%.

Helmet use in the West is the highest and lowest in the Northeast. Overall 20 states require all operators and passengers to wear helmets. It will be interesting to see if wrongful motorcycle crash deaths follow suit and decline.