There’s no question that motorcycle helmets can save lives. Still, many people choose to ride without a helmet – and this can be a perfectly legal decision in some states, including Texas.
This wasn’t always the case. In 1975, nearly every state required all motorcyclists to wear helmets because of a federal law that tied highway construction funding to helmet laws. However, states began to chip away at their helmet laws after Congress ended the funding incentive in 1976. Texas was one of the first states to repeal its universal helmet requirement in 1977, although it was later temporarily reinstated between 1989 and 1997.
Under current Texas motorcycle helmet laws, you are allowed to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if you are at least 21 years old and have completed a motorcycle safety course (which is also required to receive a motorcycle license). While this exemption covers most licensed riders, you may also be exempt from wearing a helmet if you carry health insurance that covers injuries from an accident.
Since 2009, Texas law has also prevented police officers from pulling someone over simply to check that they meet the requirements to be exempt from wearing a helmet. Of course, just because you can get away with riding without a helmet doesn’t mean you should.
The Cost Of Riding Without A Helmet
Of the 443 fatal motorcycle accidents recorded in Texas in 2015, at least 231 (about 52 percent) involved motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015, helmet use saved the lives of approximately 1,772 motorcyclists who were involved in crashes, including an estimated 122 people in Texas – but many more lives could have been saved if more motorcyclists had been wearing helmets.
The NHTSA also estimates that helmets save billions of dollars each year in costs related to medical care, property damage, lost productivity and lost quality of life, among other things, and that greater helmet use would have a significant economic impact as well.
At Burress Law PLLC, we have seen first-hand the disastrous effects of motorcycle crashes on victims and their families, and we strongly encourage motorcyclists to wear helmets at all times. We have many friends in McKinney and beyond who are motorcycle enthusiasts, some of whom ride without helmets. Our friends know that when we see them riding without a helmet, we always ask them to consider wearing one for the interest of their loved ones, if not for themselves.
Unfortunately, even bikers who take all of the correct safety precautions can still be severely injured due to unsafe behavior by other drivers. It is important to have the right motorcycle insurance coverage if you ride, and we are happy to visit with any motorcycle rider about their insurance coverage.
Finally, if you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call Burress Law PLLC as soon as possible so we can step in and protect yours or your family’s interests.