Evaluation of the Repeal of the All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law in Florida
DOT HS 809 849
August 2005

Final Report
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Table of Contents

This document is available to the public from the
National Technical Information Service,
Springfield, Virginia  22161.








This publication is distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the interest of information exchange. The opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Transportation or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof. If trade or manufacturers' names or products are mentioned, it is only because they are considered essential to the object of the publication and should not be construed as an endorsement. The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers.




Technical Report Documentation Page

  Report No .

DOT HS 809 849

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Evaluation of the Repeal of the All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law in Florida

5. Report Date

August 2005

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Robert G. Ulmer and Veronika Shabanova Northrup

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Preusser Research Group, Inc.
7100 Main Street
Trumbull, CT 06611

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report
September 2002- February 2005

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

Patricia Ellison-Potter served as the NHTSA Task Order Manager for this study.


Effective July 1, 2000, Florida eliminated the legal requirement that all motorcycle riders wear helmets. State law now requires helmet use only by riders under the age of 21, or older riders who do not carry at least $10,000 of medical insurance. Observational surveys and crash reports indicated that helmet use dropped substantially following the law change. Motorcyclist fatalities increased by 81 percent comparing 2001-2003 to 1997-1999, compared to +48 percent nationally. Non-fatal serious injuries began increasing in the first six months of 2000, increased by 32 percent in the first year following law repeal. There was a 40 percent increase in the number of injured motorcyclists who were admitted to hospitals. Admissions for head injuries increased by 82 percent. The average head injury treatment cost increased by almost $10,000, to $45,602. In 1998 and 1999, the acute care hospital charges for head-brain-skull principal injury cases per 10,000 registered motorcycles were $311,549 and $428,347 respectively. The comparable figures for 2001 and 2002 were $605,854 and $610,386, adjusted for inflation. Time series analysis showed a statistically significant increase in fatalities while controlling for changes in motorcycle registrations. Similar analyses also showed significant increases for Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas. Florida crash reports also indicated that helmet use declined markedly among riders under age 21, who were still covered by the law. Fatalities in this age group nearly tripled in the three years after the law change. Comparing the 30 months before and after the law change, there was an increase of 55 percent in the average annual number of motorcyclists killed (181 to 280, respectively). Registrations increased an average 33.7 percent in this time period. Some of the increases in fatalities and other injuries in Florida were probably due to this increased ridership. The expected number of motorcycle fatalities as a result of the increase in registrations was 242. The actual number who died in 2002 was 301, 56 (+24 percent) more motorcycle fatalities than expected as a result of increased registrations alone. Nationally in 2001 and 2002, motorcycle miles of travel declined compared to earlier years. Given the large registration increase in Florida, it is unlikely that this national pattern held in the State.

17. Key Words

Motorcycle helmet laws
Helmet use
Motorcyclist fatalities and injuries
Crash costs

Distribution Statement

This report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Springfield, VA 22161 (703) 605-6000. It is also available, free of charge, on the NHTSA web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

19. Security Classif.(of this report)


20. Security Classif.(of this page)


21. No. of Pages

22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7  (8-72)