Trikes occupy a unique space in the legal landscape. They’re somewhere between what a vehicle and a motorcycle require for safety and operational standards.
The waters become even murkier if you include an autocycle or a Slingshot in that conversation. You need to know the facts to stay safe on the road today.
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Table of Content
Is It Legal to Ride a Trike Without a Helmet?
Three states currently have no motorcycle helmet laws: Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. You can ride bikes, trikes, and autocycles there without having the safety gear on during operations.
If you drive from one of these states to another, you must follow those motorcycle helmet laws. Nineteen states require all riders to wear helmets, with several more mandating it for people 17 to 20 years old or younger.
Missouri requires a motorcycle helmet for people 25 years old or younger.
Some states have exemptions for mopeds or scooters with a 50cc engine or less and motorized vehicles with a maximum unassisted speed of 30 mph or less.
Do You Need to Wear a Helmet on a 3-Wheeler?
Only South Carolina offers a specific exemption for a “motorcycle three-wheel vehicle” in the current set of US helmet laws. The state defines it as a design with detachable side cars, a saddle-type seat, and handlebars or motorcycle-type steering.
That means a Slingshot or a similar vehicle with a steering wheel instead of handlebars would still require a helmet in South Carolina.
Learn if wearing a helmet has anything to do with the trike insurance rate.
Should Children Wear a Helmet When Riding a Trike?
Kids should wear helmets when riding a trike, motorcycle, or autocycle. Because an accident could create a significant risk of a head impact, this safety equipment could save their lives.
That’s why most states that don’t require adults to wear a motorcycle helmet still make it mandatory for minors to use this equipment.
Twenty states currently require riders who are 17 and younger to wear a motorcycle helmet. Mopeds (with various descriptions) are exempt from many of these rules, although California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Hawaii make no exceptions.
Delaware requires motorcycle helmets for riders and passengers who are 18 or younger.
Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah require riders who are 20 or younger to wear helmets.
Colorado has a unique stipulation where all passengers must wear a motorcycle helmet, but a rider who is 18 or older is not.
Do You Have to Wear a Helmet in a Slingshot?
A Slingshot is typically registered as a motorcycle or a trike in the United States. Although autocycles are not technically bikes, the legal status of these vehicles is treated the same way.
That means you would need to wear a helmet in the states where this equipment is mandatory for all motorcycle-type vehicles.
You would also need a motorcycle endorsement to drive a Slingshot, even though it has a bucket-style seat and a steering wheel.
Knowing what to expect with today’s motorcycle laws gives you a better idea of what to expect when taking a ride. Trikes typically follow the same rules, but changes can occur anytime. It’s always best to check the local regulations before traveling to ensure you comply.
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