Fatalities Up as Florida Weakens Motorcycle Helmet Law

April 9, 2004

In July of 2000, the State of Florida weakened the motorcycle helmet law. Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky and Louisana had done it, so why not Florida? The new Florida law allowed people over the age of 21 years to ride motorcycles without helmets as long as they had at least $10,000 in medical benefits to cover an accident.

Helmetless motorcycle riders may like the rush of air on the open road, but that same feeling of freedom from a helmet puts riders at an increased risk for fatal accidents.

Dr. Andreas Muller at the University of Arkansas compared the number of deaths to motorcycle riders before and after the new Florida law. During the year that the law was changed, there was a 45.5% increase in the number of deaths of motorcyclists in Florida. This year also saw an increase in the number of motorcycle registrations (8.1%) and total number of miles traveled by motorcyclists (6.3%). So, even with the increase in the number of motorcycles on the road and distance traveled by motorcyclists, there was still a great increase in deaths after the law was changed.


  1. Muller, A., Florida's motorcycle helmet law repeal and fatality rates, Amer. J. Public Health, 94:556-558, 2004.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  3. The Hard Facts of Motorcycle Crashes
  4. The Cost of Unhelmeted Motorcycle Riders
  5. Motorcycle Helmet Safety and Progression

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