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California Motorcycle Helmet Laws

May 30, 2017 | Motorcycle Accidents

What Do Helmets Do?

The most significant protective gear while riding a motorcycle is your helmet. Helmets that meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) standard are potentially the most effective way of reducing injury levels while riding a motorcycle. The DOT standards are for motorcycle helmets that usually hold a minimum standard of protection for riders. The most effective motorcycle helmets are the full-face helmets, protecting the face and chin. Helmets that are effective can protect the rider from acquiring a Traumatic Brain Injury, which is often the cause of motorcycle accident death. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%

Research shows that motorcycle helmets absorb the energy from the crash to protect the rider from experiencing the force of the collected injury on their head. Unhelmeted motorcycle riders are known to have more of a significant amount of severity in their injuries than helmeted motorcycle riders.

What are the helmet laws?

Each state has their own helmet law. California has a Universal Helmet Law. Pursuant to California Vehicle Code, Division 12, Chapter 5, Article 7, Section 27803.

(a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet meeting requirements established pursuant to Section 27802 when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.

(b) It is unlawful to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

(c) It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

(d) This section applies to persons who are riding on motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycles operated on the highways.

(e) For the purposes of this section, ‘wear a safety helmet’ or ‘wearing a safety helmet’ means having a safety helmet meeting the requirements of Section 27802 (see :Standards” below) on the person’s head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person’s head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement.

(f) In enacting this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while operating or riding a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle.”

In the United States, there are two types of motorcycle helmet laws:

  • The Universal Helmet Law that requires everyone that is riding a motorcycle, including passengers to wear a helmet.
  • The Partial Helmet Law which requires only groups of certain people, such as people who are young, inexperienced, or have low medical coverage to wear helmet.

Research shows that The Universal Helmet Law increased helmet use significantly. The opposite occurs when The Universal Helmet law is not active: helmet use is decreased, alongside with increasing injury and death levels. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the federal government estimates that helmet use while riding a motorcycle can reduces the risk of dying in an accident by 37 percent.

Under California Vehicle Code 27803, it is mandatory to wear a helmet as a rider or passenger while riding a motorcycle. It is even illegal for a helmeted rider to ride with an unhelmeted passenger. Wearing a helmet can help protect riders and passengers from excessive damages. Although it is the law in California, it is strongly suggested riders utilize DOT approved helmets.

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