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Helmet Laws

Biker racing on the roadThere’s nothing like riding down the highway on your Harley with the wind blowing through your hair.  Helmet?  You don’t need no stinking helmet!  You want to experience all that riding a bike means.  It’s the feeling of freedom.  It can also be a dangerous thing.  You may be giving up safety for that feeling.  You may not look as cool as Peter Fonda in Easy Rider but you will be safer by wearing a helmet.

Helmet laws have been around for many years.  In 1966, the Highway Safety Act was introduced.  This Act stated that highway funds would be withheld from states that did not have mandatory helmet laws.  And by 1975 there were 47 states that complied with that Act.  That same year the Act was withdrawn by congress and half of all the states repealed their helmet laws.  Those states saw a sharp rise in deaths and head and neck injuries from motorcycle accidents.  If you ride a motorcycle you are 21 times more likely to die in an accident than someone in a car.  Some states, like Louisiana, repealed the law only to reinstate it.  Louisiana saw a 30% drop in motorcycle accident deaths when the law was reinstated. 

At this time only 3 states have no mandatory law requiring helmets.  There are many states that require those under 21 to wear helmets; this is very difficult to enforce.  And 20 states require all riders to have helmets.  Having a helmet law for those under 21 makes sense.   For those older, it’s a personal decision in the states that allow it.  If you are traveling through various states it is a wise idea to check the helmet laws first.  Since Florida is a popular destination for motorcyclists, where do they stand on this?  Florida requires all riders 20 and younger to wear a helmet.  Florida also states a rider over 21 can ride without a helmet if they carry the required amount of insurance.  Their helmet law was enacted in July 2000.

Many will complain a helmet law is a violation of their freedom. They have rallied for the right to not wear a helmet and succeeded in many states.   An excellent argument for wearing a helmet is just looking at a few pictures of those who didn’t wear a helmet and didn’t survive.  It’s a sobering experience.   Where do you stand on this issue?