Motorcycle fatalities in New Mexico: The association of helmet nonuse with alcohol intoxication

Donna Nelson, David Sklar, Betty Skipper, Patricia J. McFeeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine the relationship among helmet use, alcohol use, and ethnicity in people killed on motorcycles. Design: Retrospective review of all motorcycle fatalities in New Mexico from 1984 through 1988. Setting: Office of the Medical Investigator, State of New Mexico. Type of participants: All decedents of motorcycle crashes in New Mexico from 1984 through 1988. Interventions: Review of all autopsies, medical investigator reports, traffic fatality reports, and toxicological studies on fatally injured motorcyclists. Results: Nine of the helmeted drivers (18%) were legally intoxicated compared with 67 of the nonhelmeted drivers (51%) (χ2 = 15.7, P < .0001); 42 of the white nonHispanic decedents (37%), ten of Hispanic decedents (12%), and none of the Native-American decedents were wearing helmets. The head and neck region was the most severely injured body region in 42 of the nonhelmeted cases (84%) and in eight of the helmeted cases (50%) (Fisher's exact test, P < .02). Conclusion: There is an association between nonuse of helmets and alcohol intoxication in fatally injured motorcyclists in New Mexico. Strategies for preventing motorcycle fatalities should address alcohol abuse and ethnicity in conjunction with helmet use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-283
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • helmet use
  • motorcycle fatalities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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