Fewer motorcyclists die in states that require helmets, and the costs to society are lower as well, according to a new federal study. About five times as many no-helmet biker deaths occur in states with less restrictive laws, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found. "These laws save lives," says the study's lead author. CDC researchers looked at a government tally of fatal traffic crashes, focusing on 2008 through 2010 and counting 14,283 deaths of motorcyclists.
That included 6,057 bikers with no helmet. Only about 12% of those deaths occurred in the 20 states that required everyone on motorbikes to wear helmets. The researchers also made 2010 cost calculations based on medical expenses and lost work productivity from motorcycle deaths and injuries. "In 2010, more than $3 billion in economic costs were saved due to helmet use in the United States," the CDC director says. "Another $1.4 billion could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets."