Rick Schmitt

A fatal motorcycle accident in San Diego County on Jan. 30, 2011. (CAL FIRE San Diego)

Booming Sales of Novelty Helmets Boost Toll of Motorcycle Deaths

Every year, hundreds of motorcycle riders die in crashes they would have survived had they been wearing helmets that meet a government safety standard instead of so-called novelty helmets. Yet sales of the substandard helmets are booming, and federal authorities have failed to crack down.

Anti-helmet law demonstrators in recent rally in state capitol in Albany, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein / Albany Times Union)

Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators

While the highway death toll is going down, motorcycle fatalities have increased to 4,500 per year, or about one in seven traffic deaths. Yet motorcycle groups continue fighting to preserve what is essentially a gag order on regulators to keep them from promoting or enforcing safety requirements. “This is… an interesting and dangerous road they are going down,” as one safety advocate put it.