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AMA Challenges CDC Helmet Task Force

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
American Motorcyclist Association
A new recommendation for universal motorcycle helmet laws by a task force of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based on faulty reasoning, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force asserts that universal motorcycle helmet laws will reduce the rate of motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes. The recommendation is based on studies of U.S. states and foreign countries that require all riders to wear helmets, those that require only minors to wear helmets and those that have no helmet requirement.

"Researchers examined evidence from the United States and other high-income countries [made available through the United Nations' World Health Organization] and found that implementation of universal laws in place of partial helmet laws or no law led to substantial increases in helmet use and decreases in motorcycle-related deaths and injuries," according to the task force's statement. "When universal helmet laws were repealed and replaced with partial laws or no law, the opposite effects were seen; helmet use decreased substantially and motorcycle-related deaths and injuries increased."

To adequately assess the role of helmet laws in preventing serious injury or death in crashes, the CDC task force members would first have had to identify the fatal injury in each crash, then determine whether use of a helmet would have prevented that injury or reduced its effect, thereby saving the life of the motorcyclist.

However, the CDC task force cites no such detailed analysis and offers no evidence that the use of a helmet would have lessened or eliminated the fatal injuries in a significant number of crashes. Instead, task force members merely looked at the numbers and drew their conclusion.

"Correlation does not imply causation," said Wayne Allard, AMA's vice president for government relations. "Instead of trying to draw conclusions from this type of observation, the CDC task force could have better spent its time and resources searching for cures for infectious diseases."

The AMA has long advocated the voluntary use of helmets, but opposes mandates because helmets do nothing to reduce the likelihood of a crash.

"Rider education and motorist awareness/distracted-driver programs -- which are threatened when scarce funds are siphoned into helmet mandate enforcement -- should be the focus of the safety community," Allard said.

The AMA strongly encourages the use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, sturdy footwear and a properly fitted motorcycle helmet certified by its manufacturer to meet the DOT standard. However, adults should have the right to voluntarily decide when to wear a helmet. The AMA does not oppose laws requiring helmets for minor motorcycle operators and passengers.

"Helmet use alone is insufficient to ensure a motorcyclist's safety," Allard said. "There is a broad range of additional voluntary measures that can be implemented to improve the skill of motorcycle operators, as well as reduce the frequency of situations where other vehicle operators are the cause of crashes that involve motorcycles."

A complete statement of the AMA's position on universal mandatory helmet laws can be found here: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/VoluntaryHelmetUse.aspx.

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.
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wd8cyv   July 16, 2014 11:31 AM
spare me the grief i have always wore a helmet .... a better use of resources would be a campaign to get everyone TO STOP TAILGATING... every time i leave the house i get pushed and shoved to where i am going whether i am in a car or on my bike.. and both the car and bike riders are guilty of it the last time i got rear ended on my bike it was an other biker... that i did not know ..he was a hot shoe in a hurry.. dave
JSH   July 11, 2014 07:46 PM
The AMA's response to this study that finds places that require motorcyclists to wear helmets have a lower number of deaths and injuries is to basically stick their fingers in their ears and yell la la la la la.... Yes, riders with better training have fewer crashes but riders that wear helmets also have fewer injuries. Both are obvious but the AMA refuses to acknowledge the second. ---- On loud pipes - Yes, the AMA officially says that they are against loud pipes, but the also actively fight any attempt to crack down on riders that install them on their motorcycles. Actions speak louder than words.
43007   July 10, 2014 10:32 AM
If they are truly concerned about our "safety" helmets would've been mandatory decades ago. It's all about who will profit from that decision. Like seat belts, people die with or without helmets. Every Tom, Dick, and Mary will get a salad bowl and slap a DOT sticker on it to comply and will not be any safer. Shove off, CDC. Go find a cure for cancer. Oh wait, that would kill the pharmaceutical industry profits.
philthy_utah   July 10, 2014 10:25 AM
Can't say the AMA is perfect, but I'm not sure comparison to the NRA is valid. IMO it is the only organization effectively fighting for motorcyclist's rights. A $49 membership for me is well worth it even if I don't drink all the cool-aid. JSH, I think you have a couple things incorrect. AMA does not say helmets don't reduce injuries. They are stating they don't reduce accidents and they're trying to put the focus on rider training instead. Well trained riders get in less accidents, helmets or not. Also, they do not support loud pipes: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements/excessivemotorcyclesound.aspx
LordRaiden   July 9, 2014 01:14 PM
If a person is foolish enough to ride ANY type of motorcycle without a helmet I believe they have that right. I wouldn't do it myself however I also don't believe in forcing my values on others. A helmet does nothing to prevent a person from: grabbing too much front brake, shifting way too early in the powerband, steering the wrong direction to avoid an obstacle, entering a turn going too fast with too much/little lean angle, overjumping a double or triple jump, dumping the clutch while being too far back on the seat, looping out while executing a wheelie etc. etc.
JSH   July 9, 2014 10:07 AM
This along with the AMA's support of loud pipes is why I am no longer an AMA member. It is one thing to say that wearing a helmet should be a personal choice, it is another to claim that helmets don't reduce injuries and deaths. Claiming such nonsense only makes the AMA look stupid.
VFRMarc   July 8, 2014 06:15 PM
The AMA is as bad as the NRA in its use of spurious logic.
jvlivtriple   July 8, 2014 04:18 PM
Didn't I recently read that AMA membership has been declining for a few years?
thomboz   July 8, 2014 02:43 PM
Perhaps riders w/o helmets ride slower and more cautiously, I did the few times I've ridden without one. And sport bike riders who's helmets reflect their genre, being younger and less cautious, are over represented in injury statistics. I am typically against more laws, but in this case, too many acquaintances have died without a proper helmet, so I've changed my tune.