North Carolina Motorcyclists Strongly Endorse Helmet Use Requirement

RALEIGH (February 22, 2013) -- According to a statewide survey of North Carolina residents, a large majority of current motorcyclists support the state's requirement that all motorcycle riders wear safety helmets. Among survey respondents who had ridden a motorcycle during the past year, 78 percent support the requirement. Support was even greater among non-motorcyclists, with 93 percent favoring the requirement.

"We've known for a long time that motorcycle helmets save lives," said Don Nail, assistant director of the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program (GHSP), which funded the study. "It's encouraging to know that most North Carolina riders agree that requiring helmet use is a good idea."

Numerous studies show that motorcycle helmets are highly effective in reducing head injuries and fatalities. North Carolina has required helmet use by motorcyclists of all ages since 1968. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that North Carolina ranks number one in the nation for both lives saved and economic costs saved by motorcycle helmet use.

The Research
Each year, the GHSP conducts a survey of North Carolina residents to measure public opinion and awareness about a variety of highway safety issues. Questions about motorcycling were included in the survey for the first time this year because the number of motorcycle crashes in North Carolina is on the rise.

According to the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, there were 4,240 crashes involving motorcyclists in North Carolina during 2010, up from 2,541 crashes in 2001. Although crashes have increased, the proportion of riders who die when they crash has remained the same, largely because virtually all riders in North Carolina wear helmets.

"The findings of the survey are very positive," said Nail. "And motorcycle helmets are critically important now more than ever. Motorcycle crashes and injuries have been increasing in North Carolina because of the growing popularity of riding, especially in the western, mountainous region of the state and among riders older than 40."

Improving Motorcycle Safety
GHSP currently supports a number of efforts to improve motorcycle safety. One example is BikeSafe, a training program conducted by law enforcement officers that helps motorcyclists improve their riding skills in a non-threatening, non-enforcement environment.

In recent years, some states have weakened or repealed helmet requirements for motorcyclists. According to CDC, these states have seen substantial increases in fatalities as a result. For example, after Florida eliminated its helmet requirement, motorcycle rider deaths increased by 55 percent and the costs of treating head injuries from motorcycle crashes more than doubled.

Sandra Farmer, president of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, is highly encouraged that North Carolina has not followed in the footsteps of states such as Florida. "The evidence for the safety benefits of motorcycle helmets is overwhelming," said Farmer. "I’m so glad that motorcycle riders in North Carolina not only see the wisdom of wearing helmets, but also the value of requiring their use."

The statewide telephone survey was conducted between Dec. 9 and 19, 2012. It included a random sample of 601 North Carolina residents age 15 1/2 or older who were licensed to drive a motor vehicle. Comprehensive survey findings will be presented at the national Lifesavers Highway Safety Conference in Denver, Colo. in April.

About Governor's Highway Safety Program
The mission of the Governor's Highway Safety Program is to promote highway safety awareness and reduce the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state of North Carolina through the planning and execution of safety programs. For more information, visit www.ncdot.gov/programs/ghsp.

About UNC Highway Safety Research Center
The mission of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) is to improve the safety, sustainability and efficiency of all surface transportation modes through a balanced, interdisciplinary program of research, evaluation, and information dissemination. For more than 45 years, HSRC has been a leading research institute that has helped shape the field of transportation safety. For more information, visit www.hsrc.unc.edu.

About Brain Injury Association of North Carolina
Founded in 1982 by families and concerned professionals, the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina (BIANC) is a small 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of offering help, hope, and a voice for people with brain injury and their families. BIANC strives to create a better future for the approximately 188,000 North Carolinians living with brain injury through prevention, support, education, and advocacy programs. For more information, visit www.bianc.net.

For more information about motorcycle safety, helmet use or the survey findings, please contact:

Don Nail, Governor’s Highway Safety Program, (919) 733-3083, dnail@ncdot.gov

Caroline Dickson, UNC Highway Safety Research Center, (919) 962-5835, dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

Sandra Farmer, Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, (919) 969-2975, sandra.farmer@bianc.net


 

Media Contacts

Caroline Dickson
919.962.5835
dickson@hsrc.unc.edu

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