Feds say all motorcycle riders should wear helmets
Federal safety officials want states to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in deaths since the late 1990s.
By JOAN LOWY •
Modified: November 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm •
Published: November 16, 2010
Other countries are doing better. The U.S. had the lowest fatality rate in the world in the 1970s, but Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and the United Kingdom have surpassed the United States.
While fatalities dropped 19 percent in the U.S. from 1995 to 2009, they dropped 52 percent in France and 38 percent in the United Kingdom. Rates fell 50 percent in 15 high-income countries with available traffic data.
â€œThe United States can no longer claim to rank highly in road safety by world standards,â€ the report said.
Fatalities have fallen in other nations partly through programs that sometimes generate opposition in the U.S such as speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets. Thousands of lives could be saved if such programs were widely adopted in the U.S., the report said.
More frequent checkpoints nationwide to detect drunk drivers could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives annually, researchers estimated. Systematic speed control programs could save 1,000 to 2,000 lives, and mandatory helmet rules for motorcyclists could mean 450 less deaths a year. Another 1,200 deaths would be avoided if seat belt use rose to 90 percent from 85 percent.
â€œWhere is the public outcry against these preventable deaths?â€ Hersman asked.
â€œAmericans should strive for zero fatalities on the road. We should be leading, rather than following the international community when it comes to roadway design and safety measures,â€ she said. â€œBut it is a sad fact that the U.S. is in their rear-view mirror and falling further behind the rest of the world when it comes to highway safety.â€
Clinton Oster, an environment and public policy professor at the Indiana University-Bloomington and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said there was no â€œsilver bulletâ€ program that stood out.
â€œI think we need to be much more systematic in developing clear goals, measuring results and making that information public,â€ Oster said. Other countries â€œwork very hard to demonstrate these techniques actually do save lives.â€