NHTSA NUMBERS CALLED INTO QUESTION
Despite being barred by Congress from lobbying for helmet laws, every time a state
considers modifying their helmet law, the federal National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration pokes their nose into the state's business and tries to dissuade
legislators with bogus statistics. None of that is new to those in the front lines,
but a recently released NHTSA "study" has come under fire from the insurance
industry, normally one of NHTSA's allies!
"USAA Insurance Company Editor's Note: We reprinted statistics from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration on increases in the fatality rates of motorcyclists
following the repeal of helmet laws in Texas and Arkansas. After receiving member
feedback questioning these statistics, we took a closer look at the NHTSA study results
and found the statistics we reported had not been adjusted for increases in registrations
and miles traveled. When registrations are factored in, fatality rates in Arkansas
dropped from 11.54 percent per 10,000 motorcycles in 1996 to 10.92 in 1998.
In Texas, the fatality rate increased from 6.99 per 10,000 motorcycles to 8.85 per
10,000. The NHTSA study does not attempt to determine whether wearing a helmet
would have prevented any reported fatalities."
In defending against the NHTSA study, Sputnik, founder of the Texas Motorcycle Rights
Association and member of the NCOM Legislative Task Force, reported that "In 1997,
prior to the Texas helmet law repeal, there were 115 people who died in motorcycle
accidents, and registrations had dropped to 143,000. By 1999, after the helmet law
was repealed, deaths had risen to 181, but registrations had increased to 253,000.
Given these figures, which NHTSA ignored, it would show that while fatalities increased by
58 percent during this 2-year period, registrations increased by 77 percent!"
AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS Feb. 16, 2002