Motorcycle helmets are widely known to decrease the risk of motorcyclists’ accident injuries and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for example, far fewer motorcyclists died in accidents in 2013 in states with helmet laws. In states without such laws, 1,704 cyclists died in accidents in which they were unprotected by helmets, while only 150 cyclists died in accidents in states requiring helmets. According to some statistics, helmets are approximately 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclists’ deaths and approximately 67 percent effective at preventing cyclists’ brain injuries.

Not all states’ helmet laws are alike, however. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as of January 2015, only the following 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws requiring all motorcyclists (including operators and passengers) to wear helmets:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) have no helmet-use laws at all, and the remaining 28 states require only some motorcyclists to wear helmets. (States requiring only some riders to wear helmets generally limit the requirement to riders under a certain age.)

motorcycle helmet lawHelmet laws are designed to protect motorcyclists from serious injuries and deaths that may be prevented through helmet use—and these laws have been proven effective. According to the IIHS, in past years, more states required universal helmet use because federal funding for certain federal safety programs and highway construction was withheld from states that did not enact these laws. When the Department of Transportation stopped penalizing states for failing to enact helmet laws, many of these laws were repealed, and deaths and injuries from motorcycle accidents increased.

As a motorcyclist aiming to protect yourself from injury or death, however, you are well-advised to wear a helmet that fully complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), no matter where you are riding. If you are traveling between states or across the country, you also need to be aware of the helmet laws in all the states you will cover to avoid being ticketed for helmet-law violations.

One of the aims of our national motorcycle-injury firm is to diminish the number of injuries and deaths suffered by motorcyclists around the country by urging all cyclists to wear helmets wherever they may ride. When a motorcyclist is injured or killed as a result of a defective helmet, a defective motorcycle, or someone’s negligence, we are ready to fight for justice from all the responsible parties. Our highly skilled and nationally recognized motorcycle-accident lawyers have extensive experience with all types of motorcycle-accident cases. We work with the best experts in the field to assess the causes of an accident and motorcyclist’s injuries and to identify all those who may be held liable through legal action. We put your interests and well-being first—by hoping to prevent or reduce your injuries in the first instance by encouraging you to wear a helmet and ride safely, and by providing you with knowledgeable, dedicated, and aggressive representation in the event you are injured.