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Illinois Ranks First In Highway Safety, Helmet Laws Aside


  Illinois ranks first in a nationwide study surveying traffic safety laws. The new report card by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Illinois’ collection of traffic laws a very high grade with just one caveat: llinois does not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

Jackie Gillan, president of the lobbying group, says this is the biggest factor precluding Illinois from a higher grade.

“There’s all kinds of research showing how effective motorcycle helmets are in preventing deaths and brain injuries, and Illinois needs to move forward and adopt that law,” she said.

Gillan says the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide is disproportionately high, compared to the number of motorcycles on the road.

“Motorcyclists represent 14% of the total traffic fatalities, yet they only account for 3% of all registered vehicles," she said.

There have been numerous attempts over the years to pass a helmet law in Illinois. They’ve been defeated, in part because of the efforts ABATE – a politically powerful group that describes itself as “dedicated to preserving the rights of all motorcyclists.” ABATE says wearing a helmet should be a rider’s choice.

Illinois is one of just three states with no law requiring motorcycle helmets.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving to CNI in 2023.
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