Motorcycle Helmet Laws - What You Should Know
Motorcycle riding in the United States has become a subculture of our nation. People who share a love for bikes come together in groups, create clubs, and enjoy the ride together.
More recently, individuals and couples have also embraced motorcycles as both a mode of daily transportation and a catalyst to grand adventures. Many embark on coast-to-coast rides, taking in all that our great country has to see. Whether you stay close to home or choose the adventurer's lifestyle, the choice to wear a helmet can often be a challenging decision.
Only a minority of states require helmet use by law. A mere nineteen-out-of-fifty mandate helmets for all riders, with two, Illinois and Iowa, holding tight to their free-choice helmet option. However, the remaining twenty-nine states have designed their motorcycle helmet laws, so be sure to look up the specific details that apply to where you live and wherever you’re going.
Age Specific Helmet Laws
Most states opted to design their own motorcycle helmet laws based on two variables:
- Age of rider
- Presence of Insurance
Twenty-Seven states choose age requirement as their baseline for helmet use. Licensed motorcycle drivers who are of that age or below must wear a helmet.
- 18 and younger
This age represents coming-of-age in our country in a number of other permissible choices. As such, twenty states including two in the northeast, New Hampshire and Connecticut, opted to draw the line at “adulthood.”
- 19 and younger
Delaware is the only state that chose nineteen as the benchmark for helmet choice.
- 21 and younger
The ten remaining states with age-restriction helmet laws further divided the definition. Florida and Michigan require the rider to be both 21 and hold the right insurance, while the rest only hold to the age of the rider.
With so many different rules and requirements across the country, it’s important to do your homework before setting out on a multi-state ride. The best course of action is to have a helmet with you at all times. It’s easy to stow on your bike if you choose not to wear it in the states that allow you that option.
Helmets and Safety
It’s easy to get caught up in the legality of helmet wearing, but the bottom line is simple: wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle is a safety feature.
Much like passengers in cars click their seat belt every time they get in, putting on your helmet greatly reduces the potential bodily damage you’ll incur in the event of an accident. Current statistics report that those wearing helmets are forty-percent more likely to survive an accident.
Helmets and Insurance
Astoundingly, wearing a helmet doesn’t directly impact your insurance rates. This makes some kind of sense when factoring in variables from the number of states across the country with different laws.
However, accidents, whatever their severity, will certainly impact your insurance rates regardless of where you live. Wearing a helmet is a pro-active safety measure and is also cited as the reason that many riders don’t have to file a claim with their insurance company after an incidental accident.
You love your motorcycle and you want to be safe to ride another day. So be sure to check your local laws and those of any other state borders you plan to cross. And then, enjoy the ride!