Helmet Laws

Mandatory Laws – Laws regarding the use of helmets

The helmet is perhaps the only protective equipment that a motorcycle rider and his or her passenger can wear. Helmets cannot prevent accidents but it can reduce the extent of the injuries to the head in case of an accident. A motorcycle rider or passenger without a helmet is three times more likely from a head injury in case of a collision than someone wearing a helmet. Many states have laws that require motorcycle riders and their passengers to wear helmets.

State Laws

Many states have passed laws that require a motorcycle rider to wear a helmet. In some states the passenger is also required to wear a helmet. A few states have gone further and passed laws that require the motorcycle rider and passenger to wear other protective equipments such as face shields and goggles. While helmets have helped reduce the number of injuries to motorcycle riders and their passengers in case of an accident, the helmet laws have been opposed by a few, especially the motorcycling community.

Many motorcycle organizations and clubs challenged the introduction of these laws. However, most courts have upheld the validity of laws requiring motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets for their own safety.

Penalty for Not Wearing Helmet

States enforce the mandatory helmet laws by using various enforcement strategies. In some states there are criminal penalties for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle. In some states there is a fine to be paid for violating the mandatory helmet law.

Depending on whether the state has adopted contributory or comparative negligence theory, not wearing a helmet can affect the motorcycle rider’s right to seek compensation for injuries in case of an accident. Under comparative negligence, the plaintiff’s fault reduces but does not entirely eliminate the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injury. Contributory negligence is conduct on the part of the plaintiff below a reasonable standard of care for self-protection that contributes along with the defendant’s behavior to the plaintiff’s injury.

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