Motorcycle Helmet Use and Crash Trends 10 Years After Florida's Helmet Law Change in 2000

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Conference Proceeding

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There is a growing concern regarding the rapid increase of motorcycle rider fatalities in the U.S. Motorcycle crash fatalities continued their ten year increase, reaching 5,290 in 2008. Florida has been above the national averages in the proportion of motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes compared to all traffic fatalities and in the fatality rate per 10,000 registered motorcycles. The helmet law repeal came into effect on July 1, 2000, which allows Florida motorcyclists 21 and older to ride without a helmet as long as they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance to cover injury costs in the event of a crash. This study analyzed motorcycle crash trends in Florida for ten years before and after the repeal of the motorcycle helmet law in 2000. It was found that there has been a sharp increase in motorcycle registrations in the post-law period as well as a notable increase in motorcycle fatalities in Florida. An observational survey was conducted to measure the actual use of helmets by motorcycle riders in Florida. The total number of observed helmeted riders increased from 47 percent in 2002 to 54 percent in 2010. The analysis of observed helmet use and fatal motorcycle crash data at the county level shows a statistically significant association. An increase in the appearance of older riders in motorcycle crash data was found (2002 - 2008), as well as a reduction in the overall average injury severity, despite an increasing number of overall motorcycle crashes in the same time period.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Transportation Research Board 90th Annual Meeting, Compendium of Papers, Washington, D.C., January 23-27, 2011.