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Study: DOT-approved helmet use increasing – January 22, 2007

January 22, 2007
Filed under Features

Motorcycle helmet usage is increasing, although it’s still not close to the level it was at in 2000.
Then, 71 percent of motorcycle riders wore Department of Transportation-approved helmets. In 2006, 51 percent of riders had DOT-approved headgear. Still, that is a 3 percent increase compared to the prior year, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey, the only probability-based observational survey of helmet use in the nation. Surveyors observed helmet use at random roadway sites to collect the survey data.
Fourteen percent of riders wear helmets that are not compliant with federal safety regulations, the study found. That number has not changed in the past year.
Regionally, the West saw the biggest increase in helmet use with 22 percent more riders wearing head protection. The Northeast was up
4 percent while the Midwest and South were both down by 3 and 4 percent, respectively.
Not surprisingly, state laws dramatically affect the rate of helmet use. Only 37 percent of riders wear DOT-approved helmets in states that do not require their use, while 68 percent of riders wear helmets in states that do require their use. At the time of the study, 20 states and the District of Columbia required all motorcyclists to wear helmets.
Other interesting points the survey revealed include:

  • More passengers are wearing helmets, although the total amount remains low. Only 33 percent wear DOT-approved helmets, which is 4 percent higher than last year.
  • A higher percentage of rural riders were wearing helmets (52 percent) in 2006 than the previous year. The 9 percentage points climb for 2006 was higher than urban riders (3 percent) and much higher than suburban cyclists (4 percent fewer).
  • More cyclists wear DOT-approved helmets on the weekends than on weekdays, a finding that’s consistent with last year.
    The survey is conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Survey data was taken by observing motorcyclists between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The data was taken between June 5 and June 26. About 1,600 motorcyclists were observed. psb

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