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Motorcycle Helmet Laws By State – What You Need To Know!

motorcycle helmet

Many enthusiasts consider riding a motorcycle without a helmet the ultimate expression of freedom. It’s getting in the wind—literally! However, it comes at a price. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), fatalities among motorcyclists are 29 times more likely than other vehicles. The rate is 25.47 per 100,000 motorcycle vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2019.

The sobering facts are that the United States averages more than 4,500 accidents, with 37% including head injuries. The latter is less likely to occur in states where helmet use is mandatory. Let’s review where the states stand.

(Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion)

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Motorcycle Helmet Laws By State (All U.S. States)

1. Alabama

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Statista)

motorcycle rider holding his helmet
Image Credit: Fodsports, Pixabay

2. Alaska

Age and passenger restrictions.

Alaska requires riders 17 years old and younger or holding a permit to wear a helmet. Older individuals don’t have to wear one unless they are a passenger. The state also recommends eye protection.


3. Arizona

No helmet laws with age restrictions. Individuals 17 and younger must wear a helmet.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


4. Arkansas

No helmet laws with age restrictions. Individuals 20 and younger must wear a helmet.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


5. California

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. The laws make sense, given the fact that the state has the most vehicle registrations in the country. There were 785,424 in 2020, which is about 2% of the total population.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Statista, US Census Bureau-CA)

man riding in motorcycle
Image Credit: SAVA86, Pixabay

6. Colorado

No helmet laws with age restrictions. If you’re 17 and younger, you must wear a lid.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


7. Connecticut

No helmet laws with age restrictions. Individuals 17 and younger must wear a helmet.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


8. Delaware

No helmet laws with age restrictions. While many states set the bar at 17 years, Delaware bumps it up to 18 and younger. However, passengers must have one available on the bike.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


9. Florida

No helmet laws with age restrictions. Florida requires helmets on riders 20 and younger. The state also has the second most registrations in the country at 620,077. You’ll also have to have medical insurance if you’re going to skip the helmet over 21.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Statista)

person wearing white printed helmet
Image Credit: rosentalrony, Pixabay

10. Georgia

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion)


11. Hawaii

Age and passenger restrictions. If you’re under 18 or a passenger, you must wear a helmet with eye protection in Hawaii. The state also requires that you make your bike noticeable with reflectorization.

(Journal of Safety Research)


12. Idaho

No helmet laws with age restrictions. You can enjoy the open road without a helmet unless you are 17 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


13. Illinois

No helmet laws or age restrictions. Illinois is one of two states that are the most lenient with bikers. There are no regulations governing your use.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

person sitting on a motorcyle with helmet
Image Credit: HELMEnt, Pixabay

14. Indiana

No helmet laws with age restrictions. Like many states, Indiana restricts helmet use to those under 17 years old.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


15. Iowa

No helmet laws or age restrictions. Like Illinois, the state poses no regulations on helmet use.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


16. Kansas

No helmet laws with age restrictions for riders 17 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


17. Kentucky

No helmet laws with age restrictions if you’re 20 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

motorcyle helmet
Image Credit: HELMEnt, Pixabay

18. Louisiana

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Everyone must wear a lid.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


19. Maine

No helmet laws with age restrictions only for people 17 and younger. The regs also apply to passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


20. Maryland

Helmets are required for riders and passengers with no age restrictions.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


21. Massachusetts

Helmets are required for riders and passengers with laws the same as Maryland.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

female rider wearing her helmet
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

22. Michigan

No helmet laws with age restrictions for individuals 20 and younger, including passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


23. Minnesota

No helmet laws with age restrictions if you’re under 17.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


24. Mississippi

Helmets are required for riders and passengers regardless of their age.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


25. Missouri

No helmet laws with age restrictions for individuals 25 or younger, surprisingly. However, it has a different spin on these regs by requiring proof of financial responsibility.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

motorcycle with helmet
Image Credit: MrTozzo, Pixabay

26. Montana

No helmet laws with age restrictions only until you reach 17.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


27. Nebraska

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Nebraska makes us scratch our heads. It’s smack dab in the middle of the country. No surrounding states have similar laws. The percentage of registrations versus the total population is 2.5%, a half percentage point higher than in California.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, US Census Bureau-NE, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


28. Nevada

Helmets are required for riders and passengers regardless of their age

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


29. New Hampshire

No helmet laws or age restrictions. You’re free to do what you want here.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

stylish red motorcycle helmet
Image Credit: HELMEnT, Pixabay

30. New Jersey

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


31. New Mexico

No helmet laws with age restrictions for riders 17 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


32. New York

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Motorcycle fatalities are more likely to occur in urban areas instead of rural places. Bear in mind that the population density of New York is nearly five times that of the United States.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Census Bureau-NY, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


33. North Carolina

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

rider wearing black race suit and helmet
Image Credit: Vander Films, Unsplash

34. North Dakota

No helmet laws with age restrictions for those 17 and younger. All passengers must wear a helmet.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


35. Ohio

No helmet laws or age restrictions unless you’re under 17. That applies to passengers, too.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


36. Oklahoma

No helmet laws with age restrictions only if you’re 17 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


37. Oregon

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

male rider riding his motorcycle
Image Credit: TSKvado, Pixabay

38. Pennsylvania

No helmet laws with age restrictions for anyone 20 and younger. You must have a license for two years before you can shed the lid.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


39. Rhode Island

No helmet laws with age restrictions until you reach 20. However, you have to wear a helmet if you’re a passenger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


40. South Carolina

No helmet laws with age restrictions if you’re less than 20.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


41. South Dakota

No helmet laws with age restrictions if you’re under 17.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

man riding motorcycle
Image Credit: keesluising, Pixabay

42. Tennessee

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


43. Texas

No helmet laws or age restrictions unless you’re 20 and younger. You can forgo the helmet if you’ve passed a bike safety course.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


44. Utah

No helmet laws with age restrictions for bikers 20 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


45. Vermont

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Period.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

man resting on his motorcycle
Image Credit: basnetprabin777, Pixabay

46. Virginia

Helmets are required for riders and passengers regardless of their age.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


47. Washington

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


48. West Virginia

Helmets are required for riders and passengers.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


49. Wisconsin

No helmet laws with age restrictions for individuals over 17.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

sleek black motorcycle helmet
Image Credit: HELMEnT, Pixabay

50. Wyoming

No helmet laws with age restrictions for those 17 and younger.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)


51. Washington, DC

Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Interestingly, the state also has the lowest number of registrations at only 3,567 in 2020.

(Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, Statista, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

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Conclusion

Despite the number of fatalities, 31 states have pulled back on motorcycle helmet laws since 1976. Nevertheless, the existence of these laws has a profound impact on its use. The difference in compliance is nearly eight-fold. While many riders think a helmet interferes with their vision, the proof isn’t there. We recommend that any biker seriously consider wearing one to protect your noggin.

(Forbes, Statista)


Featured Image Credit: HELMEnT, Pixabay

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