Motorcycle crashes killed 4,502 people in 2010. In Rhode Island, news reports of motorcyclist deaths occur regularly throughout the summer and warmer months. Many of the victims weren't wearing helmets.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets are estimated to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders and 41 percent of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers.
Rhode Island law requires anyone under 21 to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Passengers must wear helmets at all times.
In the wake of numerous motorcycle-related traffic fatalities in Rhode Island, is it time for the state to re-think its helmet laws? Nineteen other states have universal helmet laws.
Advocates say universial helmet laws save lives and money. Motorcycle crash-related costs was $12 billion in one year, according to the CDC. That figure counts both medical care and productivity losses.
And as more people buy bikes and ride, deaths have increased at an alarming rate. Motorcycle-related deaths have increased 55 percent since 2000, according to the CDC.
People who choose not to wear helmets and opponents of universal helmet law say it's an issue of personal freedom and a mandatory requirement is unnecessary government interference.