Adding the issue to its "Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety," the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on all states to adopt laws requiring all motorcycle riders to wear government-approved helmets.
The "Most Wanted List" is the federal government initiative to encourage state governments to adopt laws and programs the NTSB believes will significantly improve transportation safety.
In its latest annual update of the Most Wanted list, the NTSB added motorcycle safety, while dropping recreational boating safety; an area in which it found substantial progress has been made.
"From 1997 through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities more than doubled during a period when overall highway fatalities declined. Although the number of motorcycle fatalities fell in 2009, the 4,400 deaths still outnumber those in aviation, rail, marine and pipeline combined," stated the NTSB in a press release.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), head injury remains the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. As a result, the NTSB recommended that all states require all persons riding on motorcycles - drivers and passengers - to wear helmets that comply with DOT's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
Currently, 20 states, the District of Columbia and 4 territories have universal helmet laws that apply to all riders. Twenty- seven states and one territory have partial laws that require minors and/or passengers to wear helmets. Three states - Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire - have no helmet laws.