US Government Report. Motorcycle Death And Injuries Cost $16 Billion. But Helmet Laws Dropped From The List On 10 Most Wanted Safety Improvements.

While 439,678 motorcycles were sold in the U.S. 2010, the report states there were 82,000 injuries and 4,502 deaths. The average cost for a fatal crash was estimated at $1.2 million, while the cost for injuries ranged from $2,500 to $1.4 million depending upon the severity ( In 2011, approximately 440,899 motorcycles and scooters were sold in the U.S.) The report also says laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proven effective in reducing fatalities and injuries. Several studies have estimated helmets reduce the risk of death by as much as 39 percent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated helmets saved the lives of 1,550 motorcyclists in 2010. Today, 19 states have “full” helmet laws, another 28 states have “partial” helmet laws that require only some riders to wear helmets, usually riders under age 21 or 18. The remaining have no helmet laws. The National Transportation Safety Board dropped mandatory helmet laws from their list of ten “most wanted” safety improvements earlier this month, angering some safety advocates. Motorcycling advocate groups continue to argue that educating car drivers to look out for motorcyclists, and teaching motorcyclists how to ride safely is the ultimate solution for saving lives. (pictures @ HD)

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28 Responses to “US Government Report. Motorcycle Death And Injuries Cost $16 Billion. But Helmet Laws Dropped From The List On 10 Most Wanted Safety Improvements.”


  1. 1 stefan Nov 29th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    While helmets may save lives or reduce injury when crashes occurs, education – for everyone – is the key to reducing crashes. As the article says, ultimately that wool save more lives!!

  2. 2 Chris Nov 29th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    The average cost of a motorcycle death is $1.2 million dollars!!???!!? Cost to whom and how is that calculated? Even if there is a sizable settlement to the family of the deceased, assuming the accident was caused by another negligent party, are we really talking about a million dollar payment to the family? This seems unlikely.

    Okay so then there’s the cost of the emergency responders to react to the accident, that’s reasonable, then some medical attention. But $1.2 million as an average? That seems extraordinarily high to me.

    If we take the average times the number of deaths, we come up with $5.4 billion in costs associated with motorcycle deaths annually. Really? Maybe so, but numbers like these make me skeptical.

  3. 3 GuitarSlinger Nov 29th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    > Chris – Don’t be. You’d be surprised as to how fast the bill can add up what with First Responders , Police , Ambulance transportation , Coroners report , Accident investigation ,Insurance investigations medical attention ( assuming the victim doesn’t arrive in the ER DOA ) ER costs , Doctors and Hospital bills … along with surgeons ( see my previous caveat ) etc etc etc …… Then ! Add in litigation / lawyers fees etc etc and that bill adds up to over a million almost as fast as it took for the accident to happen . Its a SNAFU system we’ve got in the US when it comes to accidents and it costs a bloody fortune .

  4. 4 Phil Nov 29th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve seen the parameters that NC uses to pad their “cost” estimates. Loss of income of the injured/deceased makes up a large part of the total, which includes loss of tax revenue that wouldhave been collected and a rectally plucked figure for survivor pain and suffering in the case of death; anything that will artificially increase the cost to add more smoke and more mirrors to the public burden theory proponents.

  5. 5 Chris Nov 29th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    @GuitarSlinger, I suppose you are correct. Kind of mind boggling. Note to local officials: If I smash my bike all to hell and wrap myself around a tree, push a boulder over my carcass and call it a day.

  6. 6 x-Harley rider Nov 29th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Not that any one will read this and make a difference.
    We as riders half to educate our selves that using the rear brake puts bike into a slide.
    It does not stop us only slows us down.
    Why do we use rear brake is cause of our car mentality. To stop you put your foot on the brake.
    We have to learn to use front brake first then rear.
    It would be great if motorcycle manufacturesores would put link brakes on all bikes we would have a fighting chance I think.

  7. 7 dmj Nov 29th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    probably including the lost salary for the remaining life of those involved.

  8. 8 Tobby Nov 29th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    The full report can be downloaded at this link: http://gao.gov/products/GAO-13-42

  9. 9 GuitarSlinger Nov 29th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    In my opinion what needs to be done to improve rider safety is to improve riders skills …. massively . No one should be allowed on public streets without a complete Riders Safety Course certificate ( the requirements most states have to attain a M/C endorsement are a joke ) as well as a refresher course every five years or so . Mandatory ! Sound too much like a Big Brother Nanny State scenario ? In comparison to the options that are on every Government Officials table right now under consideration … my solution is absolute freedom incarnate . Trust me . From the EU to our own backyards there is movement afoot to not just limit … but cripple our freedom as riders … due in no small part to the hordes of us that chose to ride irresponsibly ( or lack the skill ) on public roads . So our taking responsibility for our actions from license to road would in fact maintain our freedom at a much lower cost than the options currently being considered ;-)

  10. 10 richard Nov 29th, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    x harley rider…My road king has ABS. ABS compensates for a lot of rider inexperience and those that do not know how to properly modulate braking pedal/lever pressure. It works!

  11. 11 Boots Nov 29th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    The helmet law will be a moot point within the next year. With Obamacare, all the govt. will have to do is make a national helmet law and that will be the end of it. The reasoning will be that it’s best for everyone!
    Remember, the government knows best!

  12. 12 Patrick Nov 29th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Boots. What it has to do with Obamacare? You are just one of those who can’t swallow Obama success. The majority of the country already told you you are wrong. Understand?

  13. 13 Patrick Nov 29th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Boots. What it has to do with Obamacare? You are just one of those who can’t swallow Obama success. You think that Obama is going to take your guns, your bike and your healthcare? Just some tea party bs propaganda believed by low iq people. The majority of the country already told you you are wrong. Understand?

  14. 14 Steve The Producer Johann Nov 29th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    2 points;

    1. I would like to see the same break out costs applied to all the Auto/truck related accidents (not including two wheelers) probaly a trillion dollars if they use the same process used to document this study.

    2. Get the hell off the politics guys. The election is over! Make your voices heard where it counts to your reps in DC not your fellow riders here on the blog.

  15. 15 Boots Nov 29th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Patrick,
    Obamacare is national health care. The Feds are going to tell us where we can go and which doctors are authorized to administer this care. The current administration has already showed us that going through congress is not always necessary. So, if a national study shows that it is cheaper and safer for motorcyclist to wear a helment, the President will pass and executive order an presto, national helmet law!
    Also, the majority of the country picked Jimmy Carter. How did that work out?

  16. 16 bikerbob Nov 29th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Steve makes a good point. How much did it cost for medical and lawsuits for car drivers who don’t wear helmets.

  17. 17 Patrick Nov 29th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Boots.

    “Obamacare is national health care” Really. This is breaking news. LOL. To who you pay your insurance? To the government? LOL

    “The Feds are going to tell us where we can go and which doctors are authorized to administer this care”
    Really? You heard this on FAUX News? LOL.

    “The current administration has already showed us that going through congress is not always necessary” Really? When? About what? Obama violated the constitution and the Republicans didn’t say one word? LOL. You are confused. For your information, it’s Bush who went to war without approval of Congress. If the country went into a deep recession, it’s because of people like you.

    Romney was named today the world’s less inspirational personality. Most republicans despised him and voted for him. LOL

  18. 18 motojefro Nov 29th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Just out a helmet on.

  19. 19 motojefro Nov 29th, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Like I said..just Put a helmet on. Sheech.

  20. 20 Tobby Nov 30th, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Enough with the political BS! Cyril has better things to do than babysit this forum.

    If anyone wants to know where the costs came from then read the report. Sixty-five pages. “Costs” include everything from kids growing up parent-less or with a disabled parent, to loss off earning power over a lifetime. Yes, they are similar for cage drivers, but the incident of injury is 30 times less, AND cage drivers are insured about three times better than bikers, so those direct costs like your old lady having to work the night shift at Walmart to pay for your feeding tube are covered, and she can stay home with the kids. Regardless of one’s position on helmets, we must all be financially responsible for the unthinkable. Take a hard look at your insurance policies (health and auto).

  21. 21 BIKER-DAWG Nov 30th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I’m not going to get into all of the arguments that have already been posted, but would like to point out that no matter how well I ride, no matter how many safety courses I take, no matter how many books I read, and no matter how much gear including a helmet I wear, it all means nothing when the 6000 lb SUV turns left in front of you, changes lanes over you, or hits you from the rear. One of the biggest challenges facing us bikers today, is that people are doing everything in their vehicles (eating, texting, calling, reading books, swattin the kids, watching movies, etc…)except what they are supposed to be doing: driving responsibly. That’s why I am a proponent of the laws “Kill a biker=go to jail”. Educating the caging public to drive safely makes all the difference.

  22. 22 Mike Greenwald Nov 30th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    According to the MRF, the federal gov’t got it wrong.

    Another Federal Government Agency Gets it Wrong, Again.
    The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report on the motorcycle safety grants known as the Section 2010 motorcycle safety grant program. The program has been wildly successful at infusing much needed financial resources directly into the motorcycle safety community. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) was instrumental in getting the grant program set up and running. Currently the money, over $45 million over the past 6 years, can only be used for educational purposes. Those can be anything from paying instructors, buying new training bikes and equipment, to public education efforts such as “look twice” campaigns.
    What the GAO is suggesting is that congress change the language so that the monies can be used for other purposes, such as helmet use campaigns. The MRF does not agree with this. The original intent of congress with the grant program was to reduce fatalities through crash avoidance techniques, not through safer crashing, as the GAO believes we should.
    The GAO estimates are just that, a guess. The fact is that the GAO did not really do any new studies or research. They simply recycled the same tired talking points that are used by any number of government or quasi government groups.
    This isn’t the first time motorcyclists have been painted in a bad light, calling us a social burden on America’s health care system. The MRF disagrees with that.
    Critics and the uninformed believe that motorcyclists, helmeted or not, account for a super majority of health care costs, from trauma room to long-term care. The problem is that’s just not true. There are not a lot of studies on social burden, but more than enough to soundly and logically deflate the social burden myth around motorcyclists.
    The Journal of American Medicine, one of the most respected of all medical publications, published the findings of a 1988 study on the subject of the public costs of motorcycle related injury at a specific Seattle, WA hospital. The results clearly showed that of all costs to sort out a motorcycle injured patient, 63.4% of the bill was paid out with taxpayer dollars. That’s an astoundingly high cost, no question, but what the study goes on to say is that the public cost of any injury at that same Seattle treatment center was 67%, 3.6% higher. Statistical dead heat.
    There is also a little more to that story because the public cost of health care is about 45% currently, and was significantly less than that in the mid-eighties when the study was conducted. The facility used for the study was Harborview, a division of the University of Washington, and one of the largest and state-of-the art facilities in the Seattle region. Because of that the facility sees most of the worst-case scenarios routinely.
    A similar study done by the University of North Carolina also found that there was no statistical difference in public cost to treat motorcycle related injury over any other type of injury. It’s also important to keep things in perspective. Last year the public share of motorcycle related injuries were 0.001% of the entire public health care cost.
    The MRF will keep you updated on this issue

  23. 23 sollis Nov 30th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I see Russian Hills

  24. 24 bigitch Dec 1st, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    give me the 1.2 million and i’l quit riding my motorcycle

  25. 25 ROGUE Dec 2nd, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Mike You Nailed It.
    BIKER-DAWG, I agree that one of the major problems is the many things that people do other than what they are supposed to while operating vehicles is a major problem.
    I will admit I have used the comment Kill A Biker- Go To Jail many times over the years But I should explain to all that a law like that is impossible under the current laws and rules.
    The reason I say that is the law would be specific to motorcycles and therefore be prejudice say to someone riding a bicycle and or walking.
    Now if the word motorcyclist or biker is removed it is possible to get enhanced penalties to the party responsible for causing a crash or collision that causes injury or death.
    At this time the only bills I have seen presented to the legislature did little more than make money for the state.
    An example is a bill that has been proposed in Florida would provide for a fine of $500.00 for injuring a person, 30 days mandatory jail time, loss of license and of course all the required schools and classes.
    In the case of death the fine would be $1,000.00, 90 days mandatory jail time and of course all the required schools and classes.
    This is added to and above all the charges and penalties that are already law.
    When first reading this many are going to say GOOD. BUT What do you see missing?
    The way the current proposed laws are being submitted all they do is make more money for the state and Do Nothing For The Victims and or Their Families.
    I suggest that those who are proposing these laws to make changes to them that help the victims. The state should Not Be Making Money From The Hardship and or Death Of Its Residents.

  26. 26 JoAnn Bortles Dec 3rd, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I just spent the weekend at a party at an accident victims home. A truck pulled out right in in front of her. She was riding a very well lit trike. That thing is lit up like a Christmas tree. 3 headlights, plenty of running lights. He was sitting at a stop sign and just pulled out. Said he did not see her.
    She was wearing a helmet. She was not speeding. Her left arm and right leg were severely injured. The driver would not even get out of his truck to help her. He just sat there the whole time as she lay on the ground until the police arrived.
    It happened at 5:30 am.
    He claimed he did not see her. What was he doing, checking his email, sending a text?
    He got a $160 ticket for failing to yield right of way. She will live in pain for the next few years, if not the rest of her life.

    The statistics I’d like to see are the ones that show how many of these “costly” accidents are caused by cars who “did not see” the motorcycle. Probably more than half. New technology and the use of it while driving is causing more and more accidents of every kind. Until something changes, more motorcyclists are going to be killed and injured.
    Rogue, keep fighting for us. Riders are being used as a tool for legislators to say, “see were doing something to lower costs. We’re going after those costly motorcycle riders. they’re unsafe.”
    Meanwhile drunk drivers and technology blind drivers are costing untold billions ( and lives.)

  27. 27 Blackmax Dec 3rd, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Bout’ time !!!
    What have we been telling them since the late 70’s /early 80’s
    Why don;t they do some real safety work
    & get all the dimwits out there riding in shorts and flip-flops, off of the road …..

  28. 28 Brian White Dec 4th, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Wearing a helmet is just the smart thing to do, Im glad that helmet use is on the rise but it needs to be required in every state

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