Quite often motorcyclists argue that they should have the freedom to decide whether they wear a helmet when they ride. Some don’t like the restriction of wearing a helmet, even if it offers protection.

Others would argue that in the case of motorcycle accidents, helmets save lives. And the statistics certainly seem to back that up, as evidenced by new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rather unsurprisingly, the research shows that fewer motorcyclists die in the states that require motorcycle helmets. On top of that, about five times as many no-helmet bikers are killed in states with laws that are less restrictive.

Only about 12 percent of no-helmet deaths occurred in one of the 20 states that require everyone to wear a helmet. Data focused on a total of 14,283 motorcyclist deaths between 2008 and 2010. Over 6,000 of those motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet.

In addition to the number of deaths, the research found that helmets cut down on costs as well. In 2010, for example, it is estimated that helmets saved more than $3 billion in economic costs in the U.S. alone. That reportedly includes lost work productivity and medical expenses.

It’s not all or nothing. Some states mandate that teens and other riders wear helmets. And a handful of states don’t require riders to wear helmets, but require that they carry higher amounts in medical insurance.

Some say it shouldn’t matter what the bikers themselves want. The lead author of the study says simply, “These laws save lives.”

Source: Ocala.com, “CDC: Motorcycle helmet laws reduce deaths,” June 14, 2012