In 1996, fatal crashes in Iowa involving motorcycles hit an all-time low at 19. Since then, the number of motorcycle fatals have been rising nearly every year. Colonel Robert Garrison, with the Iowa State Patrol, says more than 80-percent of the motorcyclists killed were not wearing a helmet.
Garrison says he’s a big believer in wearing a helmet, "I was in a motorcycle crash as a teenager and it ground the side of my helmet down, but I had no head injury." For years, Iowa lawmakers have debated, but continually rejected passing a mandatory motorcycle helmet law.
"I know that’s a very complex and political hot potato," Garrison says, "but they have been proven to save people. I would encourage people to wear a helmet, even though there’s no law saying you have to." Bob Thompson, with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says already this year, 40 people have died in motorcycle crashes.
"That’s been a disturbing trend over the past decade," Thompson says, "our motorcycle fatalities are double what they were a decade ago." Thompson adds that motorcyclists are more likely to be impaired by alcohol, compared to other motorists involved in fatal crashes. Safety experts also blame the rise in motorcycle crashes to the high-powered, so-called "crotch rockets," that are popular with many younger riders.