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July 15, 1992

Highway Fund Threat Is No Easy Ride for Motorcycle Helmet Law Opponents

JAMA. 1992;268(3):311-312. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490030021011

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HEADSTRONG opposition to motorcycle helmet laws is running into one of Congress' more powerful tools of persuasion.

Federal highway construction funds may triumph where scientific studies have only halfway succeeded. The 1991 federal highway bill dictates that states without mandatory comprehensive motorcycle helmet laws after September 30,1993, will have 1.5% of their federal highway construction money for the following fiscal year reallocated to safety programs. The safety program allotment rises to 3% for any states still recalcitrant after September 30, 1994.

Three states—Illinois, Iowa, and Colorado—now have no helmet requirements; another 22 have partial requirements, such as for minors, passengers, or student drivers.

At press time, the Rhode Island state legislature was considering a comprehensive law. California, with about one fifth of all registered motorcycles in the United States, started enforcing its law at the beginning of this year and, since then, helmet use has increased from under 50% to