The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently released some startling statistics: traffic deaths in the US are up and increasing for the first time in eight years. Yikes. Several different factors are playing into the problem, including an increase in discretionary driving, thanks to an improving economy. But one of the hugest contributors is an increase in motorcycle accidents. Last year, about 5,000 motorcyclists died on the road. That figure was 9% more than 2011’s. It’s simple logic: higher gas prices and higher temperatures send more and more motorcycles out. Additionally, several states are loosening up helmet laws, much to the dismay of helmet advocacy groups.
May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month, shining a bright spotlight on these upsetting facts. Motorcycle traffic fatalities have recently risen in 34 states and decreased in only 16. That is not comforting whatsoever, but can definitely be at least partially explained by the fact that only 19 states have a mandatory helmet law for all ages. Two states, Iowa and Illinois, do not have helmet laws at all. In 1997, 26 states had mandatory helmet laws for all ages. Why have seven changed their minds?
Washington is currently one of the 19 states that have a mandatory helmet law for all riders. Do you think that states without one should follow our lead?