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Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not only considered by safety experts to be a good preventative measure against head injuries, but it is also the law in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Of the remaining states, all but three have this type of partial law in place for their use.

History of the Motorcycle Helmet Law

Motorcycles first became popular around the turn of the 20th century, and for many decades riders only wore helmets if they desired. However, by the 1960s, it was recognized that motorcyclists were very susceptible to head injuries that ranged from concussions to skull fractures. In some cases, trauma is so severe that it causes death.

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So, some states began enacting laws to force motorcyclists to wear helmets as protection. With pressure from the federal government, virtually all states had universal helmet laws. However, that changed in 1976 when several states managed to pull back the fines from the Federal Department of Transportation.

Controversy about the Law

Law about Motorcycle HelmetDespite the obvious protection motorcycle helmets provide, there has been considerable resistance to their use in certain parts of the country. Some anti-helmet advocates point out that the helmet restricts not only the peripheral vision of riders but also limits their hearing which may lead to more accidents.

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Some Shocking Stats on Motorcycle Accidents and Deaths Over the Years.

No reliable statistics support this claim, mostly because accidents that are avoided are rarely documented. However, it is true that motorcycle helmets restrict peripheral vision and considerably dampen the rider’s hearing. This may mean they miss obvious warning signs. In addition, many motorcyclists feel that helmet laws are intrusive to their privacy.

The benefits of wearing a helmet:

On the other side of the argument is that those who wear helmets are far less likely to suffer from skull fractures and major trauma to the head and brain. However, the science of studying concussions is still relatively new. So there are no robust statistics that those wearing helmets are better protected from concussions.

The Helmet Law by State

Currently, all but three states have laws that either require everyone riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet or only a partial list of those who are required. This means minors are required to wear a helmet in states with partial laws, and riders of motorcycles with smaller engines may also not be required. Going by helmet law by state, there are going to be differences. So it is important to check with your state to see what laws are in effect.

What States Do Not Have the Law?

Only three no-helmet law states exist Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. This means anyone riding a motorcycle is not required to wear a helmet when traveling in these three states. Currently, no legislation is pending that might put such laws into effect. However, that may change over time.

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Ultimately, the helmet laws in the United States vary considerably from state to state depending on age and type of motorcycle.

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Author

Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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