Mandatory Helmet Laws: A Case For Manslaughter?

Attorney Serving Cincinnati, Mason, Hamilton & Nearby Areas in Ohio

Motorcycle Chopper Charlie

The debate about motorcycle helmets rages. Riding a motorcycle is now mainstream. My buddy Chopper Charlie has ridden close to a million miles without serious mishap. He never wears a helmet. I asked him to give me the reasons he does not wear a motorcycle helmet. He wrote this article complete with the title.  It clearly shows how serious he is. I wear a helmet when I ride. But I will defend your right not to wear one and would fight for your right to justice if injured in a motorcycle accident, whether you had a helmet on or not.


What we have behind the mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists are lawmakers, lobbyists and others, including the news media, who act emotionally rather than researching the facts and statistics available from FARS, NHTSA, FHWA, USDOT and IIHS. Using faulty logic, they assume that surely helmets make the motorcyclist safer and less likely to be seriously injured on the road. They are wrong, deadly wrong, never researching the available statistical data.

Data has been reported every year since the early 1970's by the states and then complied by federal agencies like NHTSA. This data, year after year, always says essentially the same thing: There is statistically significant evidence that helmet use by motorcyclists on America’s highways effectively doubles the chances of being involved in an accident. If the "do-gooders" would examine the facts rather than act on their emotions, they would soon discover that they are actually assisting in the killing of motorcyclists. To me, they are "Accessories to Manslaughter." The data clearly shows that bikers effectively double their chances of being involved in a motorcycle crash while wearing a helmet on the nation’s highways. The facts are crystal clear and undisputable.

Pick any year at random, the reports are all statically the same, proving that helmets on the highways are killing bikers. Non-fatal crash reports consistently shows 50,000 to 60,000 helmeted riders are involved or injured in accidents every year, compared to only 25,000 to 30,000 un-helmeted riders, consistently reporting twice as many bikers wearing helmets are involved in accidents. In 2011, it was reported that 4,388 motorcyclists were involved in fatal crashes. 2,597 of them died while riding with helmets, compared to the 1,691 who died while riding without helmets, with a 100 deaths marked as unknown. Insurance Company and other independent studies consistently show that nationally 50% of all riders wear helmets, some required by law, some voluntarily, yet, year after year, helmeted riders have almost double the number of accidents and twice as many deaths consistently. If those backing helmet laws are correct, those wearing helmets should have less deaths due to accidents, not more.

Mathematically speaking if 50% of all riders nationwide wear helmets, then the data reported on accidents and deaths would be roughly equal, 50% with and 50% without helmets, but it is always lopsided with far more helmeted riders dead or injured while involved in accidents.

Of the 50 states, 19 now require 100% helmet usage. They represent 38% of the states; yet, those 19 states had 1,871 deaths, far greater then their share. The remaining 31 states with limited or no helmet use laws only reported 2,517 deaths, much less than their share. The 19 states with mandatory helmet laws reported almost 43% of all deaths nationwide. Even when taking into consideration the states populations, highways systems, and number of motorcycles registered, it is still more dangerous to wear a helmet. It is of my opinion that those persons who promote mandatory helmet laws should be liable for contributing to manslaughter. Neither state and federal employees, nor our elected officials should be exempt from their culpability in any manslaughter case.

What I know with certainly is this: Wearing a helmet on the open road statistically "DOUBLES" your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident and dying. I'd be an idiot to wear anything that interferes with my vision or hearing, when micro-seconds in reaction time make life or death decisions. Statistics prove helmets are a hazard to a biker’s navigational abilities so why would anyone want to double their chances of a being in a crash?

Chopper Charlie


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Federal Highway Administration. Highway statistics 2010: annual vehicle distance traveled in miles and related data—by highway category and vehicle type (table VM-1). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration; Available at


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Countermeasures that work: a highway safety countermeasure guide for state highway safety offices. 6th ed. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Available at


National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Motorcycle helmet effectiveness revisited. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Available at


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Motorcycle helmet laws history. Arlington, VA: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute; 2012. Available at


National Conference of State Legislatures. State traffic safety legislation database. Washington, DC: National Conference of State Legislatures; 

Available at 


Ulmer RG, Northrup VS. Evaluation of the repeal of the all rider motorcycle helmet law in Florida. Washington. DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Available at


Cook L J, Kerns T, Burch C, Thomas A, Bell E. Motorcycle helmet use and head and facial injuries: crash outcomes in CODES-linked data. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 

Available at


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts, 2009: motorcycles. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Available at


Additional information available at

and at .    37% for preventing fatal injuries to riders and 41% for passengers, 13% for preventing serious injuries to riders and passengers, and 8% for preventing minor injuries to riders and passengers.


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Knock yourself out, its all in the data, not the predetermined reports written ... thanks C. C. for the article and the citations . My hat is off to you for so many reasons.