The prevalence of non-standard helmet use and head injuries among motorcycle riders.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined the prevalence of non-standard helmet use among motorcycle riders following introduction of a mandatory helmet use law and the prevalence of head injuries among a sample of non-standard helmet users involved in motorcycle crashes. METHODS: Motorcycle rider observations were conducted at 29 statewide locations in the 2 years following the introduction of the mandatory helmet use law in January, 1992. Medical records of motorcyclists who were injured in 1992 for whom a crash report was available and for whom medical care was administered in one of 28 hospitals were reviewed. Chi-squares and analysis of variance were used to describe differences between groups. RESULTS: Prevalence of non-standard helmet use averaged 10.2%, with a range across observation sites from 0 to 48.0%. Non-standard helmet use varied by type of roadway, day of week, and time of day. Injuries to the head were more frequent and of greater severity among those wearing non-standard helmets than both those wearing no helmet and those wearing standard helmets. CONCLUSIONS: Non-standard helmets appear to offer little head protection during a crash. Future study is needed to understand the dynamics leading to head injury when different types of helmets are worn.