Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not only considered by safety experts to be an excellent 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 for their use.
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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 susceptible to head injuries ranging from concussions to skull fractures. In some cases, trauma is so severe that it causes death.
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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
Despite 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 riders’ peripheral vision but also limits their hearing, which may lead to more accidents.
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, motorcycle helmets restrict peripheral vision and considerably dampen the rider’s hearing. This may mean they miss apparent 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 must 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.
Ultimately, the helmet laws in the United States vary considerably from state to state depending on the age and type of motorcycle.
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