State by State Requirement for Safety Helmets

HELMET USE LAWS
as of August 2004

By the early 1970s, virtually all states had laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets. But Illinois repealed its law in 1970 and, by 1980, most states had abandoned or substantially limited theirs -- usually restricting coverage to riders younger than 18. Legislators in some states later reinstated helmet laws so that all but 4 states now require some or all motorcyclists to wear helmets. (Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire don't have helmet laws.) Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, and Texas have changed their laws covering all riders to apply only to young riders. Helmet use rates approach 100 percent in 20 states and the District of Columbia where motorcycle helmet laws apply to all riders, but the laws in 26 states that apply only to some cyclists aren't effective.

Bicycle helmets also prevent injuries, but no state has a universal bicycle helmet law. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia have statewide bicycle helmet laws, and they apply only to young riders. Local ordinances in a few states require bicycle helmets for some or all riders.

State Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Alabama all riders riders younger than 16
Alaska 17 yrs. and younger1 no law
Arizona 17 yrs. and younger no law
Arkansas 20 yrs. and younger no law
California all riders riders younger than 18
Colorado no helmet use laws
Connecticut 17 yrs. and younger riders younger than 16
Delaware 18 yrs. and younger riders younger than 16
District of Columbia all riders riders younger than 16
Florida 20 yrs. and younger2 riders younger than 16


State Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Georgia all riders riders younger than 16
Hawaii 17 yrs. and younger riders younger than 16
Idaho 17 yrs. and younger no law
Illinois no helmet use laws
Indiana 17 yrs. and younger no law
Iowa no helmet use laws
Kansas 17 yrs. and younger no law
Kentucky 20 yrs. and younger2,3 no law
Louisiana all riders (eff. 8/15/04) riders younger than 12
Maine 14 yrs. and younger4 riders younger than 16


State Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Maryland all riders riders younger than 16
Massachusetts all riders riders older than 1 and
younger than 175
(eff. 11/26/04)
Michigan all riders no law
Minnesota 17 yrs. and younger3 no law
Mississippi all riders no law
Missouri all riders no law
Montana 17 yrs. and younger no law
Nebraska all riders no law
Nevada all riders no law
New Hampshire no helmet use laws


State Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
New Jersey all riders riders younger than 14
New Mexico 17 yrs. and younger no law
New York all riders riders older than 1 and
younger than 145
North Carolina all riders riders younger than 16
North Dakota 17 yrs. and younger6 no law
Ohio 17 yrs. and younger7 no law
Oklahoma 17 yrs. and younger no law
Oregon all riders riders younger than 16
Pennsylvania 20 yrs. and younger8 riders younger than 12
Rhode Island 20 yrs. and younger8 riders younger than 16


State Motorcycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
Bicycle Riders
Covered by Helmet Law
South Carolina 20 yrs. and younger no law
South Dakota 17 yrs. and younger no law
Tennessee all riders riders younger than 16
Texas 20 yrs. and younger2 no law
Utah 17 yrs. and younger no law
Vermont all riders no law
Virginia all riders no law
Washington all riders no law
West Virginia all riders riders younger than 15
Wisconsin 17 yrs. and younger3 no law
Wyoming 18 yrs. and younger no law

1Alaska's motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers of all ages, drivers younger than 18, and drivers with instructional permits.

2Florida, Kentucky, and Texas provide exceptions for riders over a certain age. In Florida and Kentucky, the law requires that all riders younger than 21 yrs. wear helmets, without exception. In Florida, those 21 yrs. and older may ride without helmets only if they can show proof that they are covered by a medical insurance policy. Texas exempts riders 21 yrs. or older if they either 1) can show proof of successfully completing a motorcycle operator training and safety course or 2) can show proof of having a medical insurance policy.

3Motorcycle helmet laws in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also cover drivers with instructional/learner's permits.

4Maine's motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers 14 years and younger, drivers with learner's permits, and passengers if their drivers are required to wear a helmet.

5Bicycle helmet use laws in Massachusetts and New York prohibit people from transporting passengers younger than age 1.

6North Dakota's motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers traveling with drivers who are covered by the law.

7Ohio's motorcycle helmet use law covers all drivers during the first year of licensure and all passengers of drivers who are covered by the law

8Rhode Island's motorcycle helmet use law covers all drivers during the first year of licensure and all passengers. Pennsylvania's motorcycle hemlet use law covers all drivers during the first two years of licensure unless the driver has completed the safety course approved by the department or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.


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1996-2004, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | Copyright and Use of Images Notice
Last modified:
13-Sep-2004
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