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Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Motorcyclist Fatalities.

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Abstract

We employ panel data over a 22-year period to study the impact of state laws mandating helmet use by motorcyclists. We find that helmet laws are associated with an average 29-33 percent decrease in per capita motorcyclist fatalities. However, since voluntary helmet wearing rates are higher in harsher climates, the efficacy of helmet laws varies directly with the warmth of a state's climate. Repeal of helmet laws in the 1970s and subsequent re-adoption in the late 1980s and early 1990s have had roughly symmetrical effects on fatalities. Alcohol consumption and the number of police available to enforce traffic laws also significantly effect motorcyclist fatalities. Copyright 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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