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Motorcycle helmet laws aren't the same in every state.

There are different takes on motorcycle helmet laws vary by each respective state. Some say that only riders and passengers under 21 need them, others say you aren't required by law to wear them at all. Keeping all of these laws straight, can be a bit of a pain when crossing state lines. Your best bet is to wear a helmet every time you ride. As the saying goes:"It's better to be safe, than sorry."

Wearing a helmet not only is required by law in some state, but also can be the difference between a minor concussion and permanent brain damage. Plus, helmets and the proper eye protection, will help prevent road debris and insects from flying into your eyes and damaging your vision. The bottom line is that wearing a helmet significantly lowers your risk of debilitating injuries in an accident.

In this article our attorneys will be explaining motorcycle laws not only in Texas, but other states as well. We'll also explore motorcycle helmet statistics and the impact that helmets have on the safety of motorcyclists on our roadways.


Questions answered in this article:

  • Which states require motorcycle helmets?
  • What is the helmet law in Texas?
  • Will wearing a helmet really save me in an accident?

Helmet laws differ from state to state.

Each state has their own laws regarding helmet laws and they are periodically changing. So, it's always best to refresh yourself every few months on what the helmet law is in your state. Specifically, the helmet law in Texas is:

Sec. 661.003. OFFENSES RELATING TO NOT WEARING PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) operates or rides as a passenger on a motorcycle on a public street or highway; and
(2) is not wearing protective headgear that meets safety standards adopted by the department.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person carries on a motorcycle on a public street or highway a passenger who is not wearing protective headgear that meets safety standards adopted by the department.
(c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (a) or (b) that at the time the offense was committed, the person required to wear protective headgear was at least 21 years old and had successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course under Chapter 662 or was covered by a health insurance plan providing the person with medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of an accident while operating or riding on a motorcycle. A peace officer may not arrest a person or issue a citation to a person for a violation of Subsection (a) or (b) if the person required to wear protective headgear is at least 21 years of age and presents evidence sufficient to show that the person required to wear protective headgear has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a health insurance plan as described by this subsection.
(c-1) A peace officer may not stop or detain a person who is the operator of or a passenger on a motorcycle for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed the motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a health insurance plan.
(c-2) The Texas Department of Insurance shall prescribe a standard proof of health insurance for issuance to persons who are at least 21 years of age and covered by a health insurance plan described by Subsection (c).

To break this down a little further: The law states that a person under 21 must wear a helmet. No exceptions. But, a rider that is at least 21-years-old is not required to wear a helmet should they have the minimum amount of insurance coverage of $10,000, or, they have completed a motorcycle safety course. These are usually conducted by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

Not every state has the same helmet laws as Texas. For example, in Illinois there is no helmet law in place at all. But, in 19 states, Louisiana and Mississippi to name two, it is required that all riders wear at least DOT-approved motorcycle helmets.

What does it mean if my helmet is DOT or Snell approved?

There are two standards of motorcycle helmet safety: the Department of Transportation, and the Snell Foundation. Making sure that your helmet is approved by either of these entities is imperative because the tests conducted by both the DOT and Snell Foundation establish minimum tolerances to impacts. Impacts that may be on your skull in the event of an accident

The Snell Foundation tends to have slightly higher standards for motorcycle helmets for their standard of approval. For example, in Snell's testing the impact forces on the helmet being tested is equal to 150 joules and are from a higher height than the DOT's tests of 82.5 joules. Snell also restricts the maximum amount of g-forces allowable to 300, whereas the DOT allows for 400. This may seem like a negligible amount, but keep in mind that Snell-approved helmets restrict the maximum g-forces to your skull by 25%.

Here's an example of the impact of motorcycle helmet laws.

The state of Michigan recently repealed a mandatory helmet law that required motorcyclists to wear helmets regardless of age. The impact has been noticeable. The trauma center at Spectrum Health Center in Grand Rapids said:

  • Those who were hospitalized and were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accidents rose from 7% to 28%.
  • 10% of those who were not wearing a helmet died at the hospital, while only 3% of those who were helmeted.
  • Those riders who died at the scene of the accident who were not wearing helmets rose to 68% from 14% before the law was repealed.

Sure, this a small localized sample size, however there are two conclusions that one can come to: Those wearing helmets are more likely to survive once they are transported to the hospital. And, motorcycle riders that do not wear helmets are much more likely to die at the scene of the accident.

Whether you choose to wear a helmet or not, you'll need an attorney after an accident.

As we mentioned above, wearing a motorcycle helmet in Texas is not mandatory as long as you meet certain criteria established by Texas law. But, most likely the cause of your accident was due to the negligent actions of another driver. After all, the courses needed to obtain a motorcycle license are much more stringent than those needed to get a regular automobile license. If you or a loved one has been injured or even worse, killed in a motorcycle accident, you're going to need an attorney that has the experience in the court room to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at: (855) 326-0000. If we don't win your case, you don't owe us a cent.


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