Whenever we think of motorcyclists, what comes to our minds is speed and winds. But riding a motorcycle is quite lovely and risky, so motorcyclists should wear a helmet.
So, the state has put in some laws to guide motorcycle riders to avoid being fined. These motorcycle laws by state vary as some laws require every rider and passengers to wear a helmet, others require everyone under the age of eighteen, some under 21, while others do not have any law at all.
But to be on the safe side, especially when you are going to be riding across a different state with a different law, you have to know the laws guiding those states. Here is a list of motorcycle helmet laws by state, and for now, only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no helmet law.
Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law
According to the Texas motorcycle helmet laws, all drivers and passengers are required by the state to wear a helmet. And the helmet must meet up with the safety standards of the state’s Department of Public Safety.
Nonetheless, individuals who are 21 and above who have completed a state-approved motorcycle operator training and safety course or are covered by a health insurance plan that provides a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries sustained while driving the motorcycle can drive their bike without a helmet.
Arizona Motorcycle Helmet Law
In Arizona, the helmet law states that only motorcycle drivers and passengers of 17 years and younger must wear motorcycle helmets.
Aside from that, everyone, riders, and operators, regardless of age, must wear protective glasses, transparent face shields, or goggles except if the bike has a protective windshield.
Florida Helmet Law
Florida helmet law is a little complicated. Generally, it demands all motorcycle operators and riders to wear a helmet. On the other hand, the law does not apply to persons 21 or older as far as they are covered by an insurance policy that provides a minimum of $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries sustained as a result of a crash when driving or operating the motorcycle.
Also, the helmet law does not apply to persons of 16 and above who ride or operate a motorcycle that functions by a motor with a displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less. Or is rated for not more than two brake horsepower and cannot accelerate the motorcycle at speed higher than 30 miles per hour on a leveled ground.
All motorcycle drivers and riders, regardless of age, are required to wear eye protection. Anyone who rides in an enclosed sidecar is not subject to Florida’s helmet or eye protection laws.
Colorado Motorcycle Helmet Law
Colorado does not require adult motorcycle riders or passengers to wear a helmet. But all drivers and passengers under 18 years of age are required to wear a helmet that meets and exceeds the standards established by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) for motorcycle helmets. The helmet must be designed to minimize injuries from the impact and contain paddings, inner linings, and chin strap. The chin strap must be worn any time the motorcycle is in motion.
All adult operators and passengers must wear goggles or eyeglasses with lenses made with safety glass or plastic. The eye protection is not relevant if the driver/passenger is not wearing a helmet with eye protection made of safety glass or plastic.
The Colorado Department of Revenue is responsible for the adaptation of these standards and specifications of the goggles and eyeglasses designs.
The standards and specifications are liable to change. It is advisable to check the department before plying the Colorado roadway with a motorcycle.
Alabama Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Alabama requires all drivers and passengers who drive or operate a motorcycle to wear protective headgear explicitly designed for motorcycle riders and passengers. The law laid down some specifications like the helmet must have a highly resistant material that can withstand high impact and penetration. The helmet must have a firmly secured shock-absorbent cradle for the head, which is designed to support the helmet and maintain separation between the head and the outer shell.
The helmet paddings must be resistant to impact, absorbent, and have a substantial thickness in all areas where the head has close contact or may contact the outer shell. The helmet must be built with durable materials that are not liable to depreciation alteration as the helmet ages. Materials which will result in skin irritation or disease should not be used.
In addition, the helmet must have a permanently attached adjustable chin strap to hold it in place securely. According to the Alabama state law, motorcycle riders and passengers are required to have the chin strap secured while the bike is in motion. The helmet must not have a visor, but the visor must be flexible or snap-on-type if it does. And should not be more than one-quarter inch above the surface or the exterior shell.
People with exceptions to the law are those who ride sidecars with enclosed cabs.
California Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In California, anyone who rides or drives on a motorcycle must wear a safety helmet that meets with the U.S. Department of Transport and the state’s safety standards. The helmet must be fastened firmly without excessive lateral or vertical movement.
The exceptions to these laws are people who operate or ride as a passenger in a totally enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle of seven feet long or above, four feet wider or above, with an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more.
These regulations are subject to changes. It is best to check for updates with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles or related departments before driving a motorcycle on the California road.
New York Motorcycle Helmet Law
According to the New York law, motorcycle riders and passengers must wear helmets that meet up with the federal law.
Although, police authorities in cities, towns, and villages may grant permits to members of organizations sponsoring, conducting parades, or engaging in other public exhibitions from wearing a helmet while participating.
Additionally, the law requires all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear goggles or face shields approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Commissioner is in charge of the enforcement and implementation to amend the regulations guiding the types of face shields allowed and their specifications. To ensure your protective glasses meet that of the Commissioner’s standard, check the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Washington Motorcycle Helmet Law
According to Washington motorcycle helmet law, all motorcycle drivers and passengers are required to wear a helmet in accordance with the rules adopted by the Washington State Patrol.
The helmet must have either a neck or chin strap and must be securely fastened when the motorcycle is in motion.
The exception to this rule is when the vehicle is an antique motor-driven cycle or an automobile that is licensed as a motorcycle. Or when the vehicle has seat belts and roll bars approved by the state patrol.
Additionally, all drivers or operators of motorcycles must wear eye protection such as goggles, glasses, or a face shield of types that is in accordance with the rules adopted by the State Patrol, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield.
The States Patrol is authorized to adopt and amend rules concerning the standards and procedures for helmets, goggles, glasses, and face shields.
Louisiana Motorcycle Helmet Law
In Louisiana, all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear a helmet that is secured with a chin strap as long as the bike is in motion.
Additionally, aside from the chin strap, all helmets must be made up of lining, paddings, a visor, and other specifications that the state’s Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles requires.
The law, however, does not apply to auto-cycle operators or riders as long as the vehicle has a roof that meets or exceeds the standards for a safety helmet.
Minnesota Motorcycle Helmet Law
In Minnesota, the law requires all drivers and passengers under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. The law also states that all drivers, irrespective of their age, must wear a helmet.
Additionally, people driving under a learner’s permit are not allowed to have passengers or drive in the state at night.
Minnesota law also requires all motorcycle drivers, irrespective of age, to wear protective eye protection such as glasses or goggles.
Those who are excepted from Minnesota’s helmet law and eye protection laws are those participating in an officially authorized parade and those riding within an enclosed cab.
All helmets and eye protection must align with the standards established by Minnesota’s Commissioner of Public Safety.
The standards are liable to changes, and it is advised to confirm with the Public Safety Commissioner before embarking on a motorcycle on the Minnesota roadways.
Can I Ride My Bike Without a Helmet?
No. Although most motorcyclists feel wearing a motorcycle helmet just kills the feel of the wind in their hair and sun on their faces, as well as freedom. And choosing to ride without a helmet, wearing a helmet, is undeniably safe.
However, states like Indiana have motorcycle helmet laws that approve such actions. According to the law, only drivers of 18 years and below or those with an instructional permit are required to wear a motorcycle helmet.
But the danger is much because of the unenclosed build of motorcycles, and riders tend to become more vulnerable to being thrown out of their bike, and thus, being exposed to head injuries.
Also, wearing a helmet when riding your motorcycle can reduce the risk of suffering a head injury by 67%, which is according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that wearing a helmet is 37% effective in reducing severe injuries on motorcycle operators and 41% on reducing the causes of injuries on passengers.
So, people that ride their motorcycle with a helmet are much more likely to sustain serious head injuries or be killed in a crash of a passenger car.
This is why it is always advised to wear a helmet when riding your motorcycle. Although, wearing the helmet in some states is not so strict, and is also based on personal choice. But due to the statistics of the death caused by the negligence of motorcyclists wearing helmets, it is a safer choice to wear a helmet.
What Happens If I Don’t Wear a Bike Helmet?
Depriving yourself of the safety a helmet can offer you by wearing it, is the greatest mistake any motorcycle rider can make. Almost all of the states and localities have put laws in place to ensure every motorcyclist wears one. If you fail to wear a helmet, you will be fined, and of course, nobody wants to be fined. But the aim is not to fine people but to ensure motorcyclists wear helmets to protect the head.
According to studies, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of sustaining severe head injuries to about seventy percent. Not wearing your helmet will lead to:
Severe Head Injuries
Having a traumatic head injury means having a crash to the head that results in brain dysfunction. Traumatic brain injuries can result in life-long altering injuries.
Lower cases of TBI are associated with brief loss of consciousness, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and memory issues. These symptoms are usually troubling, but they usually go with time if the individuals rest. However, moderate and severe cases come with permanent or continuous symptoms. The symptoms are more drastic. They include slurry or difficulty in speaking, agitations, loss of consciousness and coma, loss of coordination, and seizure.
This stage of the disease is devastating, elongated, and often results in a permanent change in one’s consciousness level. And if you regain consciousness, you may fight with cognitive and intellectual difficulties, behavioral changes, communication problems, and sometimes degenerative brain diseases.
This is not to say that every severe brain injury as a result of a motorcycle can be avoided with the use of a helmet, but from proven research, a lot of them could.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws By State FAQs
Is It Illegal to Wear a Non-DOT Helmet?
The freedom by law to ride a non-DOT helmet is dependent on the state. In some states, it is legal to ride a motorcycle without using a helmet so far you are 21 years and above.
In the U.S., only 19 states have universal helmet laws that insist that individuals, whether drivers or passengers, must wear a helmet before riding a motorcycle. And, most of these states require motorcycle riders to wear DOT-approved helmets.
What Percentage of Cyclist Wear Helmet?
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, only half of the cyclists in America regularly wear a helmet.
And, among the fifty percent of bicycle operators who state that they wear their helmet regularly, forty-three percent declared that they always wear and seven percent stated that they wear their headgear more than half of the time.
Between 1991 and 1999, the use of bicycle helmets by riders increased from eighteen to fifty percent.
Does a Motorcycle Helmet Really Save Lives?
Of course. Wearing a helmet saves lives, and you should never take a risk on your health or your social well being by not wearing your helmet. Better still, it is advisable to wear safety helmets approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) whenever you are riding on a motorcycle.
Aside from protecting motorcycle riders and passengers from brain injuries, motorcycle helmets are also a lifesaver. According to public health researchers, wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of being killed during motorcycle collision or clashes to nearly forty-two percent. In comparison, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that in 2016, motorcycles saved 1,859 lives. What it means is that about forty to fifty people survive motorcycle accidents yearly simply because they are wearing a helmet.
Hundreds and more motorcycle riders are still escaping traumatic brain injuries because they were wearing a motorcycle helmet. Don’t take chances with your life at all.
Can Wearing a Helmet Help Save Money on Motorcycle Insurance Premiums?
The consequence that comes with having a motorcycle accident is messier than having an accident. In fact, the economic loss is larger when the motorcycle rider fails to wear a helmet and encounters an accident.
Wearing a helmet or not, can play a huge role in the motorcycle insurance premium as the more accidents that occur, the higher the premiums that occur over time to account for the increase in cost.
Wearing a helmet has been on a high demand in different states today, which is probably because of the increased death rate of motorcyclists. This has resulted in the creation of motorcycle helmet laws by state, and motorcycle operators and passengers are even fined. However, the idea is not to fine the people but to ensure they are safe and offer maximum protection during crashes.
In most states, riding a motorcycle without a helmet is illegal, and some other states have gone as far as requesting riders to wear only DOT approved helmets. Although DOT approved helmets range in price and quality, using them is better to buy them to avoid being filled for claims that will cost you more.
William Demello is a professional biker and racer with over 10 years of experience. He believes in safety first, that’s why he analyzes the helmet before other relevant elements. With this long experience, now he has decided to share his experience with others. Know more at the about page.