Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is always a good idea, regardless of the law. It affects many aspects, such as insurance claims in accidents. Even if your state allows motorbiking without a helmet on your head, you should practice wearing one for your own safety.
The state where you’re residing may have its own helmet safety laws or no law at all. Most states have their laws for each age demographic. Other states have laws with no age limit. In this article, we are going to cover the motorcycle helmet laws by state, and how you should follow them.
Helmet Law Requirements By Category
Motorcycle helmet laws fall into several categories:
- All riders – all riders are required to wear a helmet without age limitation
- 20 or younger – riders age 20 and younger are required to wear a helmet at all times
- 18 or younger – riders age 18 and younger are required to wear a helmet at all times
- 17 or younger – riders age 17 and younger are required to wear a helmet at all times
- Not required – no helmet law requirements for any age
States also have the discretion to determine other rules such as engine power limitation, maximum speed, and insurance policy.
Helmet Safety Laws By State: A Full Breakdown
To help you understand better, we’ve listed all the states and their current laws on helmet safety below.
|Alaska||18 or younger|
|Arizona||18 or younger|
|Arkansas||21 or younger|
|Colorado||18 or younger|
|Connecticut||17 or younger|
|Delaware||18 or younger|
|Florida||20 or younger|
|Hawaii||17 or younger|
|Idaho||17 or younger|
|Indiana||17 or younger|
|Kansas||17 or younger|
|Kentucky||20 or younger|
|Maine||17 or younger|
|Michigan||20 or younger|
|Minnesota||17 or younger|
|Montana||17 or younger|
|New Hampshire||Not required|
|New Jersey||All riders|
|New Mexico||17 or younger|
|New York||All riders|
|North Carolina||All riders|
|North Dakota||17 or younger|
|Ohio||17 or younger|
|Oklahoma||17 or younger|
|Pennsylvania||20 or younger|
|Rhode Island||20 or younger|
|South Carolina||20 or younger|
|South Dakota||17 or younger|
|Texas||20 or younger|
|Utah||17 or younger|
|West Virginia||All riders|
|Wisconsin||17 or younger|
|Wyoming||17 or younger|
As you can see, three states have no law at all, while 19 states have helmet safety laws for everyone. The rest of the states focus on rules for younger riders (21 years old or younger).
In some states, bikers are allowed to ride without helmets, but they need to be covered by a certain amount of insurance. In regards to off-road or dirt biking, most states require safety certificates or supervision from professionals. Laws can get changed from time to time, subject to necessities.
Motorcycle Helmets and Insurance Rates
Wearing a motorcycle helmet won’t affect your insurance rates. Upon requesting a motorcycle insurance quote, they won’t ask you whether you own or wear a helmet while riding.
While wearing a helmet or not won’t directly impact your insurance, wearing one can stop your future rates from rising after injury claims. Insurers analyze the severity, losses, and frequency when dealing with specific claims. Studies have shown that states with helmet laws have lower rates.
Helmet Law Violations and Results
The states where you need to wear a helmet will typically ask you to buy a DOT approved helmet. These can cost you between $150 and $500. The price will vary for different models, sizes, and brands. However, these helmets will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
In places where you’re legally bound to wear a helmet, you may receive a warning or be fined for violations. These fines can be pretty high compared to the price of a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet.
If you violate the law and ignore wearing a helmet where asked, you may get in an accident and cause a head injury. In this case you are at risk of getting little to no compensation from the person who was at fault. It can also impact your insurance claim.
Factors To Consider When Picking A Helmet
We’ve already mentioned that you need to purchase a DOT-approved helmet if you live in a state requiring you to wear one. However, that isn’t the only criteria you should consider.
For those of you seeking complete safety on the road, Snell-approved helmets are the best. Yes, they cost more than standard DOT-approved models, but that’s because Snell helmets go through more rigorous testing.
Never buy used helmets. It’s as simple as that. There’s no way to know how much wear and tear it has already been through. So, even though brand-new helmets are more expensive, it’s worth it when you consider the price of a head injury.
Helmets should fit tightly (but not uncomfortably) around your whole head. However, it’s important to note that each brand and style of helmet has sizing differences. Therefore, you should try some on in person before you decide to buy online.
There are three general head shapes to consider — round oval, long oval, and intermediate oval. You’ll usually fit into one of these. To find out which one you are, ask somebody to take a birds-eye-view shot of your head.
5 Types of Motorcycle Helmets
There are five basic kinds of motorcycle helmets to choose from:
- Open Face — Least restrictive but also the least protective. You get a lot of airflow, and they’re less expensive than other kinds. You can get half open face helmets too, which cover your skull. A three-quarter model covers everything except your face.
- Full Face — It completely encapsulates your head and protects your nose and eyes. They don’t have as much ventilation, but they are, without a doubt, the most protective. Not to mention they’re the quietest.
- Modular — A subset of the full-face style, modular helmets are hinged to allow you to swing the face shield and chin bar away. In other words, you can convert it from a full-face to an open-face helmet in a matter of seconds. Just keep in mind that it’s not as noise-canceling or lightweight.
- ADV — Adventure helmets help you go from street riding to trail riding without switching your helmet. They come with a face shield for the former, and a peak, ventilation, and goggle space for the latter.
- Dirt — You can discount this style as they are DOT-approved. But, for those who are curious, they are made for off-road riding and come with a peak and goggle space.
Riding through the road or terrain with a motorbike is always thrilling!! But it can also be life-threatening, and that is why most states emphasize helmet use! These laws are put in place to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Be considerate and always wear a helmet when you are on the road.
Hopefully this article has answered all of your questions on the motorcycle helmet laws by state. Laws are constantly changing and it is your job to stay up to date. Good luck and happy riding.