The Colorado motorcycle safety survey: public attitudes and beliefs

J Trauma. 1997 Jun;42(6):1124-8. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199706000-00024.


Background: Motorcycle riders have a high risk of traumatic brain injury, disability, and death. Epidemiologic studies have proven that helmets reduce the severity of brain injuries and the cost of care. Yet, Colorado remains one of three states with no helmet law for riders.

Objectives: This study measured public support for (1) a mandatory motorcycle helmet use law and (2) mandatory motorcycle operator safety training. We also sought to ascertain citizens' attitudes toward traffic safety mandates from the federal government.

Methods: Structured telephone interviews were conducted with 407 Colorado adults selected by random-digit dialing.

Results: Sixty-five percent of respondents believed that motorcycle riders of all ages should be required to wear helmets. An additional 18% believed that only riders under age 21 should be required to wear helmets. Only 17% of respondents opposed all helmet laws. Even among motorcyclists, most supported helmet laws for all riders (47%) or for those <21 years of age (26%). In a multiple logistic regression, there were three significant independent predictors of a pro-helmet law stance: older age, female gender, and not possessing a motorcycle operator's license. Most respondents also supported mandatory motorcycle operator safety training. Despite supporting state helmet use regulations, a large proportion (41%) opposed mandatory Federal mandates to enact them.

Conclusion: Even in Colorado, a state with no helmet use requirements, there is strong public support for a regulatory strategy of motorcycle helmet use laws.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motorcycles* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Opinion*
  • Safety / legislation & jurisprudence