When you’re on your bike, your first priority should always be your safety and the safety of others. A close second on the list of priorities, however, is staying street-legal at all times. When it comes to the issue of helmets, however, this is easier said than done. As of yet, there are no federal laws regulating the use of helmets for those who ride motorcycles. This absence of a single umbrella law regarding helmet usage has resulted in the establishment of a plethora of different laws that vary from state to state.
While wearing the best head protection at all times will keep you covered regardless of the law, sometimes you simply don’t want to. After all, feeling the wind and hearing the rush in your ears is one of the best parts of riding, right? Well, it’s possible to ride your bike without a helmet, but it’s crucial to know where and when you can do so legally in order to avoid costly fines.
Universal Helmet Law
The universal helmet law has been adopted by an increasingly large number of states, and requires that all riders, regardless of age, insurance or other factors, wear a helmet while on the move. The states that currently use this law to regulate riders include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
If you are found riding without a helmet at any time in any of these states, you will likely be given a ticket and hefty fine. Therefore, be sure to bring a helmet along if you’re planning on driving in or through any of these states. Fortunately, cheap motorcycle helmets are easy to find, so you can always keep one on hand, just in case.
Some states age-restrict the use of helmet. These states specifically require anyone under the age of 21 to wear a proper helmet while out on their motorcycles:
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Another noteworthy age restriction exists in Delaware, which requires helmets for anyone under the age of 19.
Some states have opted to take the route of letting drivers decide for themselves whether or not they want to wear helmets while they’re riding – with the exception of minors. In these states, anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet anytime they’re driving or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle of any sort:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
No Helmet Laws
Still other states have no legislation regarding helmets at all, leaving the issue entirely up to the driver’s discretion. These states include:
- New Hampshire
Because laws change from state to state, it can be tough to know when and where you might need helmets and other aftermarket motorcycle parts to stay legal. Anytime you’re planning on taking a cross-state trip, be sure to do your research. Get a helmet to keep on hand, just in case you enter into territory where wearing one is mandatory.
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