Study objectives: To document the effect of a reenacted comprehensive helmet use law on injuries and fatalities.
Design: Retrospective before-and-after analysis.
Setting: Two urban counties representing 40% of Nebraska's population.
Participants: Six hundred seventy-one patients reported as injured to the Nebraska Department of Roads in the period from one year before through one year after the reenactment on January 1, 1989.
Results: The helmet use law was temporally associated with a 26% decrease in the reported rate of motorcycle crashes in Nebraska compared with five other midwestern states. There were sharp declines in the number (and rates) of reported injured, hospital transports, hospital admissions, severe nonhead injuries, severe head injuries, and deaths. Serious head injuries (Abbreviated Injury Score, 3 or higher) decreased 22%. The percentage of injured motorcyclists with serious head injuries was significantly lower among the helmeted motorcyclists (5%) than among the unhelmeted cyclists (14%) for the two years combined.
Conclusion: The reenactment of a helmet use law resulted in fewer crashes, fatalities, and severe head injuries.