Skip to main content

Highway Safety: Motorcycle Helmet Laws Save Lives and Reduce Costs to Society

RCED-91-170 Published: Jul 29, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1991.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated studies on the motorcycle helmet laws, focusing on the: (1) effectiveness of helmets in preventing fatalities and serious injuries; (2) impact of helmet laws on helmet usage and fatality rates; and (3) societal costs of helmet nonuse.

Skip to Recommendations


Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Because there is convincing evidence that helmets save lives and reduce society's burden of caring for injured riders, Congress may wish to consider encouraging states to enact and retain universal helmet laws. Congress could return to the use of penalties, such as withholding of highway funds for noncompliance, the use of incentives, such as making additional funds available to states that have universal laws, or the use of a combination of penalties and incentives.
Closed – Implemented
The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, enacted on December 18, 1991, included federal highway funding incentives and penalties to encourage states to adopt, or retain, motorcycle helmet laws.

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


Accident insuranceHealth care costsHealth care servicesHighway safetyInsurance premiumsMotor vehicle safetyState lawTraffic accidentsTransportation lawAccidents