“To a person who consents, no injustice is done!”
Economic Impacts of Modification of Nebraska’s
Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law
report was put together by Larry Schutt and Dan Spotten for the purpose of
bringing greater understanding to the issue of how modifying Nebraska’s
mandatory motorcycle helmet law will affect the economy of Nebraska in terms of
tax revenues, licensing, registration and tourism. A great many people
contributed to this report along with individual motorcyclists from at least 20
What is ABATE?
ABATE stands for “American
Bikers Aiming Towards Education”. ABATE is a motorcycle rights organization
consisting of motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the State of Nebraska . Our goals and
purposes are to encourage favorable legislation for motorcyclists. These are
accomplished through a monthly newsletter, a website, promotion of safety
education programs (designed to help prevent fatal and personal injury
accidents), lobbying at the State Legislature and voter registration programs.
ABATE of Nebraska , Inc.’s goal is
to keep our legislature informed of our feelings as motorcyclists, about such
proposed legislation. ABATE of Nebraska , Inc. also works with motorcycle
rights organizations across the county to stop unfair legislation aimed at
ABATE of Nebraska , Inc. does not
advocate that a motorcyclist ride without a helmet, but we feel that as
responsible adults, motorcyclists should have the right to decide whether or not
to wear one.
Promoting Safety Safeguarding
ABATE of Nebraska
ABATE of Florida :
On February 6, 2006 James
"Doc" Reichenbach II, President of ABATE of Florida and Chairman of the Board
for the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, released the following economic
impact report covering the five years since Florida modified their mandatory
helmet law to exclude most adult riders.
To all Motorcycle Rights
Organizations and interested parties
The following is
an economic impact study done for the first five years of our amended helmet
law. The motorcycle registration figures are compiled from the statistics of the
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The fees come from the Florida license and
registration bureau. From July 1, 2000 to July 1, 2005 motorcycle registrations
went from 195,306 to 473,637 which represent a total of a 143%
The following is
the estimated revenue increase from the registrations and bike purchases:
278,331 new Motorcycles at an
average of $10,000 each = $2,783,310,000
Sales tax on Motorcycles at 6% =
Registration Fees for Motorcycles =
Change of title = $8,280,347
Total = $2,968,636,696
This is almost three
billion dollars in five years that has been put into the economy of the
State of Florida , and this is a low figure as it doesn't include
antique motorcycle or mopeds that are licensed differently in Florida . Over one
hundred eighty million dollars in taxes went directly into the state treasury
for the general fund. This does not include the tourist money that has
increased because of Florida being a freedom
of choice state. In the past five years over 3 billion dollars has been put into
the economy in general from Bike Week and Biketoberfest.
The Logical Perspective
Helmet laws can also COST
states significant amounts of money. After passage of the mandatory helmet law
, in 1992-93 there was a 26% drop in new motorcycle sales and
ridership dropped by 18%. This cost the
state over $1 million in gasoline tax, $15 million in lost sales and payroll
taxes, and $1 million in lost registration fees. There is of course no way to
estimate how much was lost by the hotels, motels, gas stations, and restaurants
across the state as bikers visited helmet free states for their vacations and
day trips. The amount of money that motorcyclists spend in free states is not
insignificant. Did you know that:
According to a UCF survey,
Daytona Beach 's
two annual motorcycle rallies (Bike Week and Biketoberfest) generated $744
million in revenue for the area and an equivalent of 17,800 full-time,
year-round jobs in 2001, the year of the study.
Daytona Beach actually takes in more money from its
motorcycle rallies, than by the NASCAR events held there.
, South Carolina
takes in $350 million in
1 week during their Myrtle Beach Bike
Johnstown , Pennsylvania 's
Thunder in the Valley had their attendance jump from 70,000 to over 100,000
the year after mandatory helmets were eliminated in Pennsylvania in 2003.
Sturgis , South Dakota
attendance had grown to over
850,000 bikers last year during the Sturgis Rally (2004).
Laconia , New Hampshire
had a record year last year
when over 400,000 bikers attended Laconia Motorcycle Week (2004).
The one thing all of these
states have in common is that they are states that allow motorcyclists freedom
of choice when it comes to wearing a helmet. These biker rallies are not
insignificant sources of income for these communities. Every dollar that is
spent locally creates an additional $3 of economic ripple effect. These
figures do not take into account the hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists who
will visit these states for day trips, weekend stays, and longer vacations. In
the end, mandatory helmet laws end up costing states far more money than is
apparent to the average citizen.
THE CALIFORNIA EXPERIENCE
is proving the consistent trend
that states with mandatory helmet laws have higher death rates than those which
repealed the law. Instead of seeing a dramatic decrease in fatalities as
proponents predicted, the truth is California 's death rate is 2% higher than the
year before the helmet law went into effect. This falls in line with the
experience of other states with mandatory helmet laws. In 1992, the states with
the lowest fatality rates were Iowa ,
Minnesota , Wisconsin , New Hampshire
, North Dakota and Wisconsin none of which
have full helmet laws. Coincidentally, those states with the best overall safety
also have comprehensive rider education courses in place. More evidence to the
value of safety programs comes from the fact that in California , their award
winning safety program accounted for a 43% decrease in fatalities and a 40%
decrease in injuries from 1986 through 1991, before the helmet law was in
effect. The decrease in injuries alone amounted to 12,258, compared to 5,829
which the California Highway Patrol attributes to the helmet law between 1992
and 1993. Did the helmet law in California cause a drop in fatalities? While
deaths did go down, the number of riders decreased at even a greater number.
That coupled with a national trend of continued fatality decreases, it's hard to
credit the helmet law with anything more than causing a financial disaster in
There was a 26%
drop in new motorcycle sales in 1992-1993. Ridership was down an estimated 18%.
How does that compute to dollars lost to California ? Over $1 million less was
received in gasoline tax and over $15 million was lost in sales taxes,
payroll taxes and in state income taxes. The state lost $950,000 in
California used to account for 1/5 of all
motorcycles in the United
States . They are now experiencing the lowest
totals since 1969.
The helmet law
costs California money. It
has severely depressed the motorcycle business in California with a
resulting loss of jobs and tax revenue.
ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF
MODIFICATION TO MICHIGAN MANDATORY HELMET
Nationally, motorcycle registrations increased
annually for eleven straight years though 2002. A key influence has been the
aging baby boomers. The median age for motorcycle owners was 38.0 in 1998,
compared to 24.0 years in 1980. A 1998 study found the median income of
motorcycle owners to be over $44,000, almost three-fifths were married, and over
one-half had furthered their formal education after high school.
In 2002, there
were 197,735 motorcycle registrations in Michigan . On a per capita basis, Michigan was
significantly below the levels of bordering states. The Motorcycle Industrial
Council estimated that in the year 2002 in Michigan there were 528 motorcycle retail
outlets, with 5,624 employees, and an annual payroll of over $138 million.
the helmet law holds clear potential to increase the sales of vehicles and
accessories, as well as retaining a portion of the tourism spending of Michigan motorcyclists and attracting the
spending of out-of-state motorcycle enthusiasts. The report details the
methodology, sources, assumptions, and calculations used to generate the
The key estimates are as
increased............................................... $27.7 million
Impact including ripple
effect............................. $1,200.6 million
Direct (sales and tourism)
Total jobs, including from
The report emphasizes that
conservative estimation techniques and assumptions are used throughout. The
actual potential, particularly in the area of attracting the tourism spending of
motorcycle enthusiasts from other states, is actually far greater than
enumerated in the estimates.
West Virginia Tourism Survey
document will show the results from a twelve month survey that was conducted by
ABATE of West Virginia, Inc. The information provided in this document has been
voluntarily submitted by 328 enthusiasts from ten different states: Kentucky , Ohio ,
Maryland , New York
, New Jersey , Pennsylvania , Michigan ,
Illinois , California , Virginia .
This document has
been designed to help the legislators of
West Virginia better understand the theory motorcyclists
have been portraying regarding helmet use and tourism. The survey consisted of
these simple questions:
3. Number of days spent at
motorcycling events per year
4. What states do you most
5. Do helmet laws play a pat
6. While traveling, do you
avoid states with helmet laws?
7. Would a change in West Virginia 's
mandatory helmet law cause you to travel there more often?
8. Approximately how much do
you spend per day?
9. How many estimated miles
do you travel per year?
10. Estimated number in party
The manner, in
which this survey has been conducted, was aimed towards getting an average
figure to show one individual motorcyclist's cost per day while traveling. The
above categories were totaled and divided by the amount of participants to reach
1. “Events per year”:
represents the number of events the average motorcyclist attends per year. The
average per year according to this survey is 37.29 events. This
figure will be used at a later point in this survey to show the yearly
associated cost to a motorcyclist while traveling. The yearly cost to
motorcyclists while traveling could be potential tourism dollars for
West Virginia , provided we offer adult freedom of
2. “States most frequently
traveled”: represents the choice made by adult riders as to what states they
wish to travel: A. Mandatory Helmet Law States-7.32% B. Freedom of
Choice States-75.15%or C. Both-16.77%
3. “Do helmet laws play a
part”: represents the choice made as to what states motorcyclists are more
likely to travel. [YES-93.59%] represents those who do not prefer
mandatory helmet law states, [NO-6.4%] represents those whom it makes
4. “Avoiding states with
helmet laws”: represents the amount of motorcyclist's who avoid states due
to adult mandatory helmet use laws. [YES-85.06%] represents those who
avoid states due to mandatory helmet laws; [NO-14.94%] represents
those whom it makes no difference.
5. “A change in
West Virginia 's mandatory helmet law”: represents the amount of
motorcyclists who would travel through West Virginia more often if there was a change
in the mandatory helmet law to allow for adult freedom of choice.
[YES-94.21%] represents those who have stated that a change in the law would
cause them to come to West Virginia more often,
[NO-3.66%] represents those whom it makes no difference and 2.13% did not
spending per day”: [Part 1] represents the percentages of where
motorcyclists stay while traveling. This category has been broken down into four
different sections for the purpose of showing the dollars spent by the different
lifestyles within the motorcycling community when traveling. The four sections
and percentages are as follows:
4. None [Those
who don't stay overnight]-6.71%
spending per day”: [Part 2] represents the actual dollars that are
spent by the motorcyclists from the four different sections in the previous
chart. These dollars will be shown in relationship to their percentages from the
previous chart. For the purpose of finding an average, the dollar amounts that
fall in the hotel/camping section have been added together and divided by two to
help better see an average for this section. The following results:
4. None [Those who don't stay overnight]-$32.41
7. “Miles traveled per
year”: represents the average number of miles a motorcycle enthusiast
travels per year. The average per year according to this survey is 8,580.9
miles. The average motorcycle gets approximately 40mpg while traveling on the
highway. 8580.9miles, divided by 40mpg equals 214.52 gallons of gas per year,
multiplied by West Virginia 's current
gas tax share, and finally multiplied by the number of tourist equals infinity.
Infinity represent the choice West
Virginia has to make regarding the facts of this survey.
8. “Estimated number in
party while traveling”: represents the number of enthusiasts traveling
together while enjoying the sport of motorcycling. The average according to this
survey is 5 per traveling group. Using the earlier stated 328 participants,
multiplied by 5 equals 1640 of the possibilities, according to the American
Motorcyclist Association there are 30 million motorcyclists across the nation.
documentation more than clearly points out that tourism to our state can be
increased if the requirements for adult mandatory helmet laws were lifted.
75.15% of motorcyclists travel to freedom of choice states. Motorcyclists do
examine the laws before making a choice as to what states they wish to travel
through. Motorcyclist's definitely travel around states with adult mandatory
helmet use laws. The results of this survey based on one individual’s
spending shows the tourism dollars we could be receiving if we offered freedom
I do NOT go through
I ride about
30,000 miles per year. I travel to Sturgis every year from
Arizona and I do not go through Nebraska , ever. Most people that travel from
Arizona to Sturgis do not go through Nebraska . I spend an
average of $20.00 per day on fuel, and an average of $20.00 on food, and an
average of $75.00 on rooms and $25.00 per day on incidentals. I do two road
trips like this per year, and each trip is 3 weeks long. My cost for these trips
would be very close to $6,000.
I do “Run for the Wall” every year also. My average room cost is
$65.00 per day, and the trip is a month long trip all together. I spend an
average of $20.00 on food each day, and about $20.00 on fuel. With incidentals I
average spending $120.00 per day on my annual trip across country. My cost for
this trip is usually about $4,000.
I do an annual trip to Las
Vegas for a long weekend and I spend about $1,000.
None of these costs include any wear and tear on my bike or any
repairs that I may need to do.
(Received 10/26/06 via email)
The Bottom Line
Motorcyclists are professional people who can afford a $15,000 -
$35,000 luxury mode of transportation on top of their mortgages, college funds,
sedans, SUV’s and pickup trucks. They spend at a minimum $100 a day while
traveling. When states enact mandatory motorcycle helmet laws - motorcycle
ownership, registration and ridership sharply fall off. When states repeal or
modify mandatory motorcycle helmet laws – sales, ownership and ridership sharply
1,000,000 motorcyclists ride to Sturgis each and every year. The majority of
those ride up to South Dakota via I-29 in Iowa or I-25 in Colorado . Why? They go around Nebraska which has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law –
they are hard working adults who CHOOSE to ride without a helmet…in
ANY state BUT Nebraska .
If only 5%
(5 percent) of those 1,000,000 (one million) motorcyclists going to Sturgis
every year rode through Nebraska on their trip and spent an average of $100 a
day that would be $5,000,000 (five million
dollars) pumped into the Nebraska economy in the three week period before,
during and after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally!
Not only is
the State of Nebraska loosing millions of dollars in tax revenue and
fees related to motorcycling, but the businesses of Nebraska are loosing
millions of dollars in tourism revenue.
How can YOU help bring motorcycling tourists to Nebraska ?
There are many ways you can help:
Join ABATE of
– for a mere $25 for a “Full” membership or $50
for a “Supporting Business” membership, you can add your voice to the thousands
motorcyclists already working hard. You will stay updated via the
monthly newsletter, the website and if you choose – a statewide email list on
which alerts, announcements, “calls to action” and the progress of our
legislation will be shared instantaneously. Membership forms are available to
download at http://www.abateofne.com/MembershipNEW.htm
Contact your State Senator
personally – via phone, letter, email
or in person and explain to them that the people of Nebraska along with the
State Government are loosing millions of dollars every year in tourism dollars
because of the mandated motorcycle helmet law. Ask them to support AM 1770 when
it hits the floor. If you don’t know who your Senator is (and WHY NOT?) you can
find it by visiting the “League of Women Voters” website and filling in your zip
Spread the word
– tell your friends, family, co-workers, employees, bosses and ANYONE who will
listen about how much money the people and the State of Nebraska is loosing
because of the mandated motorcycle helmet law and how they should also get
involved to help bring motorcycle tourists to Nebraska. If
you’re not sure how to explain it to them, send them
Work with other
like-minded people or organizations –
Just as ABATE of Nebraska understands how important tourism is to the citizens
of Nebraska, you have all learned how allowing motorcyclists the right to choose
will reap huge benefits for everyone in Nebraska. ABATE of Nebraska works with many like-minded
organizations throughout the state. Develop contacts with others and find common
ground, as we have done here, that will be of benefit to both parties. By
working together and with others, we CAN make Nebraska a major tourism destination that
welcomes everyone…whether they are wearing a motorcycle helmet or not.
ABATE of Nebraska , Inc. is NOT
“anti-helmet” – we are “pro helmet choice”. And we are “pro Nebraska ”!
Nebraska, Inc. thanks you for taking the time to read our report. We urge you to
check our sources and stats. We look forward to talking further to any one who
has questions and working with any one who shares our goal for a helmet-free,
tourism friendly State of Nebraska. Please, do not hesitate to get ahold of us
at any time for any reason. We want to see Nebraska succeed!
Todd C. Miller
ABATE of Nebraska State Coordinator
State Newsletter Editor/State
Iowa , 50219