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Motorcycle Helmet Law

Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not only considered by safety experts to be a good, preventative measure against head injuries, it is also the law in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Of the remaining states, all but three have some 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 so desired. However, by the 1960s it was being 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 caused death.

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 that 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 occurring.

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

There are no reliable statistics to back up this claim mostly because accidents that are avoided are rarely documented. However, it is true that motorcycle helmets restrict peripheral vision and dampen considerably the hearing of the rider. 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 the fact 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 who wear helmets are better protected from being concussed.

The Helmet Law by State

Currently, all but three states have laws that either requires everyone riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet or only a partial list of those who are required. This means in states with partial laws; minors are required to wear a helmet 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?

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

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

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