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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Nurgul Aitalieva


Department of Public Policy


This study addresses two research questions: (1) Are helmet laws effective at reducing motorcyclist fatalities? (2) Are speed limit laws effective at reducing motorcyclist fatalities? In the 1960s, the federal government required states to enact universal motorcycle helmet laws to qualify for certain highway safety funds. In addition, in the mid-1970s Congress established a national maximum speed limit by withholding highway funds from states that maintained speed limits greater than 55 miles per hour. However, in 1976, Congress revoked federal authority to assess penalties on states for refusing to enact helmet laws. The speed limit requirement was also loosened for rural interstates in 1987 and completely repealed in 1995. The common assumption that helmet laws and speed limit laws provide safety benefits to motorcyclist is empirically tested. The main sources of data are the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau. Data collected in 2013 for 48 U.S. states are examined using a multiple linear regression model. This study finds that that requiring all riders to wear a helmet and reducing the speed limits will enhance motorcyclist safety. The reinstatement of repealed and reinforcements of weakened helmet laws should be a priority to public officials and anybody concerned by the motorcyclist mortality rate and huge medical and economical costs. Reducing the speed limits in conjunction with education of the riders will also contribute to the lowering the motorcyclist mortality rates. Keywords: Fatality rates; Motorcycle helmet-use laws; Speed-limit laws.


Public Policy

Effects of Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Speed Limit Laws on Motorcycle Safety

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