Along with many lives, helmet laws saved over $3 billion in costs in the U.S. in 2010 alone, says the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC released a study last week that examined helmet laws across the U.S., comparing states that require helmets, states that only require some riders to wear helmets, and states with no helmet laws at all.
The study’s authors found that of the 14,283 motorcycle deaths between 2008 and 2010 in the U.S., 6,057 of the riders were not wearing helmets. Then they calculated the cost of work absences, health care costs and other expenses surrounding crashes where the motorcyclists weren’t wearing helmets.
The CDC’s researchers claim those numbers show huge savings thanks to helmet laws – to the tune of over $3 billion, in the U.S. alone. If all motorcyclists wore helmets, they say the U.S. would have saved another $1.4 billion.
In states with universal helmet laws, those savings work out to $725 per registered motorcycle. In states that don’t have universal helmet laws, the riders who do wear them still bring costs down, to the tune of $200 per registered motorcycle.
Of course, those costs wouldn’t all be carried by the motorcyclist. Accidents cost the public as well, through taxes and insurance rates.
Naturally, the anti-helmet crowd is crawling all over this story, pointing out that plenty of motorcyclists still wear helmets and die, and that many accidents aren’t motorcyclists’ fault either, all of which is true. But if you’ve ever bounced your head off the pavement in a bike crash, chances are you aren’t arguing this one too loudly – either because you were wearing a helmet, or because you weren’t.