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Calls for helmet laws follow deaths

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said states repealing helmet laws are partially to blame for the rising rate of motorcycle deaths.

The board said motorcycles constitute less than 1 percent of vehicle traffic on U.S. roads but account for more than 10 percent of highway fatalities, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

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Only 20 states now require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, compared to 47 states in 1975, the board said.

“What did we know then that we don’t know now?” said Mark Rosenker, chairman of the five-member board.

“One would think that in 40 years, looking back at safety improvements, that all the low-hanging fruit has been picked, and what more could we do that was pretty simple and easy?” asked board member Deborah Hersman. She said motorcycle helmets fall under the category of simple and easy safety measures.

However, helmet laws are state statutes, and Congress forbids the National Transportation Safety Board from lobbying state lawmakers on safety issues.

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