Technical Report Documentation Page

  1. Report No.   2. Government Accession No.   3. Recipient's Catalog No. 
 4. Title and Subtitle 

Evaluation of the Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Laws

in Kentucky and Louisiana

 5. Report Date 

October 2003

 6. Performing Organization Code  
 7. Author(s) 

R.G. Ulmer and D.F. Preusser

 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 

U.S. Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

400 Seventh Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20590

 13. Type of Report and Period Covered 

Final Report

 14. Sponsoring Agency Code 
 15. Supplementary Notes 

Dr. Linda Cosgrove served as the NHTSA Contracting Officer's Technical Representative for the study. We appreciate the guidance and support she provided.

 16. Abstract 

The 1998 universal motorcycle helmet law repeal in Kentucky and the 1999 repeal in Louisiana produced similar effects. Observed helmet use dropped from nearly full compliance under the laws to the 50 percent range without the laws. Motorcyclist fatalities increased in the near term by sizeable amounts-by over 50 percent in Kentucky and by 100 percent in Louisiana. Injuries also increased substantially in both states. At the same time, the number of registered motorcycles increased (by 20%), and vehicle miles traveled increased by approximately 6% (based on national numbers). Thus, some of the increase in fatalities in Kentucky and Louisiana were probably due to increased exposure.

In Kentucky, motorcyclists killed per 10,000 registered motorcycles averaged 6.4 in the two years just before the helmet law repeal and averaged 8.8 in the two years following its repeal, an increase of +37.5 percent. Persons injured per 10,000 registered motorcycles averaged 187 in the preceding two years and averaged 219 in the two years following its repeal, an increase of +17 percent. In Louisiana, the fatality rate averaged 4.5 in the two years prior to helmet law repeal and rose to 7.9 in the year following, an increase of +75 percent. The injury rate averaged 126 persons in the two years before the helmet law repeal and increased to 152 persons in the year following repeal of the universal motorcycle helmet law, an increase of +20.6 percent. For comparison purposes, the national fatality rate per 10,000 registered motorcycles increased 18% and injuries declined by 2.9%.

 17. Key Words   18. Distribution Statement 

Motorcycle helmet laws. Document is available through the

Helmet use. National Technical Information Service

Motorcycle fatalities and injuries. Springfield, VA 22161

 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) Reproduction of completed page authorized

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