CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — According to a recent study, motorcycles have become more deadly in the past few years in West Virginia, which is correlated with the recent decline in helmet use.

According to QuoteWizard, motorcycle fatalities have increased by 36% in West Virginia since 2019 with 37 deaths in 2021. In West Virginia, all motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet, by law, but of these deaths, 17 of the victims weren’t wearing a helmet.

According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, motorcyclists are about 29 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash and are four times more likely to be injured than passenger vehicle occupants. But wearing a DOT-approved helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 42%.

Despite these statistics, helmet wearing has actually declined in the past few years. QuoteWizard reported that in the U.S., helmet wearing on motorcycles has decreased from 71% in 2020 to 68% in 2021. In the Midwest, fewer than half of riders wear helmets. In the northeast, South, and in urban and rural areas, riders wear helmets about 70% of the time, according to the study. Helmet wearing in rural areas declined from 71% in 2020 to 65 in 2021. Riders in the West wear helmets the most with an 88% helmet-wearing rate in 2021.

QuoteWizard also reported that passengers are wearing helmets the least at only 52% nationwide, a drop of 20 percentage points since 2020.

Motorcycle helmet laws by state

All of these laws apply to both drivers and passengers.

States where helmets are always required by law:

  • West Virginia
  • Alabama
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

States with no motorcycle helmet laws:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire

States where helmets are required by age:

  • Alaska (under 18)
  • Arizona (under 18)
  • Arkansas (under 21)
  • Colorado (under 18)
  • Connecticut (under 18)
  • Delaware (under 19)
  • Florida (under 21)
  • Hawaii (under 18)
  • Idaho (under 18)
  • Indiana (under 18)
  • Kansas (under 18)
  • Kentucky (under 21)
  • Maine (under 18)
  • Michigan (under 21)
  • Minnesota (under 18)
  • Missouri (under 26; all permit riders)
  • Montana (under 18)
  • New Mexico (under 18)
  • North Dakota (under 18)
  • Ohio (under 18)
  • Oklahoma (under 18)
  • Pennsylvania (under 21)
  • Rhode Island (under 21)
  • South Carolina under 21)
  • South Dakota (under 18)
  • Texas (under 21)
  • Utah (under 21)
  • Wisconsin (under 18)
  • Wyoming (under 18)

To see the full study and methodology, visit QuoteWizard’s website.