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If you can't make motorcyclists wear helmets, what CAN you do?


Experts agree that the best way to reduce traffic fatalities involving motorcyclists is mandatory helmet laws.

But only nineteen states have such laws, and the number is smaller than it used to be, as several states in recent years repealed their mandatory helmet laws, including Michigan.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says barring that most effective strategy, Congress should consider letting states use their federal motorcycle safety grants for more things.

The federal government gives $45 billion to states every year for motorcyclist training and for improving driver awareness of motorcycles.

The GAO says it might help if Congress allowed states to also use that money for other strategies, such as public education to try to boost voluntary use of helmets, and educating police about motorcycle safety, in order to strengthen enforcement.

The report says motorcycle accidents cost the nation a minimum of $16 billion a year.  That figure doesn't include long-term care costs for people seriously injured while riding a motorcycle.

The report also estimates that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die on the roadway than a car driver, on a per miles driven basis.

Motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die on the road than car drivers. Experts agree the best way to reduce those deaths is mandatory helmet laws.

But only 19 states have such laws. Several states recently repealed their laws - including Michigan.



Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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