Fatality Rates Fall in Texas


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  By 1999, after the helmet law was repealed, deaths had risen to 181, but registrations had increased to 253,000.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!"