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Motorcycle Helmet Laws in California

Posted by Timothy J. Ryan | May 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

Motorcycle helmet use tends to be higher in states where mandatory universal helmet laws are in effect, as it is in California. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2015, 92 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted in states with helmet laws that cover all riders in contrast to only 27 percent in states with no helmet law.

In states with helmet laws that cover only some riders, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted. There is no question that motorcycle helmets save lives. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries.

What is the Law in California?

Under California Vehicle Code Section 27803, all motorcyclists and their passengers are required under state law to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle safety helmet while riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle or motorized bicycle. The motorcycle safety helmet must be certified by the manufacturer stating the helmet complies with U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. Head injuries account for the majority of motorcyclist injuries that are serious or fatal and often, traumatic brain injuries are reduced by properly wearing a DOT-certified full-faced helmet.

Before Buying a Helmet

Here are a few facts you might want to consider before purchasing a motorcycle safety helmet:

  • A majority of motorcycle accidents occur on short trips (less than 5 miles).
  • Most riders are traveling at a speed of 30 mph or slower when an accident occurs. At these speeds, a DOT-certified helmet can cut both the number and severity of head injuries by half.
  • A helmet that is not DOT-certified has very thin layers and hardly any protective padding. Therefore, it lacks the strength, size and ability to protect the rider's head in the event of a crash.
  • It's difficult to visually distinguish between a certified and non-certified helmet. Helmets that are not properly certified may be known by a number of names such as novelty helmets, rain bonnets, lids, beanies, brain buckets, etc.

A full-face helmet with a lock-in visor offers the best coverage and protection for your head. Your helmet should fit snugly all the way around. It should not have any obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps. Fasten your helmet securely on your head when you ride. Not doing so might cause it to come off during a collision.

Face shields, when lowered and locked in, offer protection from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects, pebbles, and other debris. It is also a good idea to use ear protection. However, under California Vehicle Code Section 27400, a person may not wear a headset, earplugs or earphones while riding.

If You Have Been Injured

Injuries can occur even when motorcyclists are wearing helmets. Some of the most common injuries in motorcycle accidents include broken bones, road rash, internal injuries and neck and back injuries. Such injuries may leave motorcyclists with serious and even permanent or life-changing injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Southern California motorcycle accident lawyer who will analyze all aspects of the incident and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for the injuries, damages and losses you have sustained.

About the Author

Timothy J. Ryan

Personal injury attorney Timothy J. Ryan has helped California injury victims recover more than $1 Billion since 1981. Tim is on the board of governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and received the 2020 award "10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys" for client satisfaction.

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