I ride a motorcycle and I don’t understand how the state can legally tell me I have to wear a helmet. Is that really something they can do?
Here’s a great article by Edmond El Dabe, one of the founding partners at El Dabe Ritter Law, discussing motorcycle accident cases. If you ride a motorcycle, you may find it uncomfortable or distracting to wear a helmet. However, California law requires all motorcycle operators to wear helmets. Additionally, those helmets have to meet specific standards.
While not every state in the U.S. requires motorcycle operators to wear a helmet, California law dictates that both operators and passengers must wear helmets at all times. It is illegal for one but not both people on a motorcycle to wear a helmet. Helmets have been shown to decrease fatal injuries in both operators and passengers. Some states don’t have a helmet law, while others have a partial helmet law, which requires anyone under a certain age to wear a helmet when on a motorcycle.
California’s helmet law, California Vehicle Code Section 27803, was passed in 1992. The following year, the state saw a decrease of 37% in deaths related to motorcycles. Additionally, your risk of getting a head injury from a motorcycle accident goes down by 69% when wearing an approved helmet.
A majority of motorcycle accidents end in either serious injury or death; there are almost no “small accidents” when it comes to riding a motorcycle. California instated the motorcycle helmet law as a way to make motorcycle riding more safe for the drivers and their passengers. The law also extends to motorized bicycles and other types of motorized cycles.
California law also states the type of helmet that is legal to wear when operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, the following must be met:
– The helmet’s inner liner has to be a minimum of one-inch thick.
– The helmet’s inner liner has to be made of polystyrene foam.
– The chin straps must be attached using rivets; additionally, the chin straps have to be sturdy.
– The helmet must weigh a minimum of three pounds.
– Nothing can come out of the helmet’s shell longer than 2/10 of an inch.
If your helmet meets these standards, you can have a sticker placed on the helmet to communicate this. Both operators and passengers have to wear helmets that meet these requirements.
It’s necessary to wear the helmet on your head. “Wearing” the helmet does not pertain to wearing it somewhere else on your person, carrying it or affixing it to your bike. The helmet must be placed on the head with the chin straps fastened to the shell. The helmet cannot move excessively in any direction.
While nobody can physically force you or your passenger to wear a helmet before getting on a motorcycle, there are penalties you may have to face should you be caught. If the driver of the motorcycle is wearing a helmet but the passenger is not, the driver can be ticketed. You may be fined for not wearing a helmet or for having a passenger who is not wearing a helmet. However, some people in California feel that violating the helmet law should be considered an equipment ticket, which may help you avoid a fine.
Motorcycles are popular in California, thanks to the state’s gorgeous scenery and beautiful coastline. Motorcycles are fun to ride, easy to maneuver and highly fuel-efficient. They’re popular for people who want to take a joy ride as well as those who use their motorcycle as their primary mode of transportation. However, it’s the popularity of motorcycles that also makes them so risky. You’re more likely to be killed in a motorcycle accident than a car accident.
If you have questions about California motorcycle helmet law or if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, as either the operator or a passenger, contact a personal injury lawyer today. Your attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have and provide guidance if you think you have a case. If you think you’ve been treated unfairly based on the state’s helmet law, speak with an experienced lawyer. Depending upon your specific case, you could be liable for damages.