Many people ride motorcycles recreationally and as a means of transportation. While they can be enjoyable, they can also be dangerous. Riders do not have the physical protection that vehicles provide and are more susceptible to injuries if involved in a collision.
Helmets are one of the ways that motorcyclists avoid sustaining injuries in these instances, but not everyone feels the need to wear them. There are different laws, both federally and at a state level, that determine when a motorcyclist is required to wear a helmet.
History of Helmet Laws
The first federally mandated helmet law was enacted in 1966. It offered an incentive to states by allowing them to qualify for federal safety programs and highway construction funds if they enacted statewide helmet laws. This incentive worked as 47 states and D.C. had enacted helmet laws by 1975. Once penalties were eliminated that year, almost half the states removed these laws. Today, each state has its own variation of the law.
Currently, 19 states plus D.C. require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, known as universal laws. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, twenty-eight states require some to wear them, while three states have no laws regarding the use of motorcycle helmets.
North & South Carolina Helmet Laws
North Carolina is one of the 19 states that require all motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding. Those who do not wear one face a $25.50 fine. There have been initiatives to retract some of these laws. In 2017, a bill went up that would allow those over 21 and riding for over a year to choose whether to use a helmet. However, it has yet to go into effect.
With slightly different laws than its northern counterpart, South Carolina’s state laws require just some motorcyclists to wear helmets. Only if you are under 21 are you required by law to wear a helmet that is approved by the Department of Public Safety.
Other Safety Wear
There are other ways to protect yourself because of the severity of possible injuries from a motorcycle accident. Additional gear can be worn to protect motorcyclists in the event of a crash and reduce the risk of injury. This includes:
- Safety goggles or a face field
- Sturdy boots
- Thick gloves
- Leather clothing, such as vests, gloves, jackets, and pants
While it is more dangerous not to wear a helmet than to wear one, many believe it should be their personal choice and responsibility to make this decision and the possible consequences.
Contact our firm at (800) 351-3008 if you were involved in a motorcycle accident and would like to discuss your case.