States Back NHTSA Helmet Proposal

Publish Date: 
Oct 15, 2008

Vernon F. Betkley, Jr., chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says he has submitted comments indicating the organization’s support for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) proposed rulemaking aimed to strengthen motorcycle helmet labeling requirements to make compliant helmets easier to identify and counterfeiting more difficult. Betkley says his group also supports mandatory helmet laws.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans.

NHTSA says motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in reducing fatalities. The NHTSA proposal would amend the agency's current motorcycle helmet safety rules to require manufacturers to place a larger, tamper-proof DOT label on the back of certified helmets. The proposed rule would also strengthen the tests helmets must go through to receive DOT certification, including updated tests on how the helmets hold up during impact, whether objects can penetrate the helmet and how well the helmet stays in place during a crash. Recent tests of novelty helmets which are not DOT certified showed they fail to meet current DOT performance tests and provide minimal protection.

“GHSA strongly supports mandatory motorcycle helmet laws for all riders and encourages the thirty states without such laws to enact them,” Betkley says.

“Motorcycle fatalities have increased 127 percent over the last decade, and this area remains one of the few in highway safety in which we have not made any progress,” Betkley says. “GHSA strongly applauds NHTSA for this proposal and for the agency directly addressing a problem that is a growing and pervasive one. Developing a regulation in the face of a vocal minority that opposes helmet laws and flagrantly violates those laws is not an easy task and shows real leadership. We encourage NHTSA to move forward and finalize this proposal as quickly as possible.”