Motorcycle helmet laws in the United States from 1990 to 2005: politics and public health

Am J Public Health. 2009 Mar;99(3):415-23. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.134106. Epub 2008 Dec 23.


The passage of universal helmet legislation requiring motorcycle riders of all ages to wear helmets is a timely and controversial issue with far-reaching public health implications, especially as the number of motorcycle fatalities continues to rise. In 2008, only 20 states had a universal helmet policy, an effective safety measure for reducing motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries. We used state-specific longitudinal data for the continental United States from 1990 through 2005 to determine which industry, political, economic, and demographic factors had a significant influence on the enactment of universal helmet policies. Our findings suggest that political climate and ideology are important predictors of helmet policies.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Government Regulation*
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Motorcycles / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Motorcycles / statistics & numerical data
  • Politics*
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States