In 1967, the federal government required states to enact universal motorcycle helmet laws to qualify for certain highway safety funds. By 1975, all but three had complied. In 1976, Congress revoked federal authority to assess penalties for noncompliance, and states began to weaken helmet laws to apply only to young or novice riders.
Currently, about half the states require helmets for all motorcyclists. Most other states require helmets for certain riders, and a few have no helmet law. GHSA urges all states to adopt a universal motorcycle helmet law and vigorously enforce existing laws.
- 47 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a helmet law for motorcyclists.
- 19 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a universal helmet law, requiring helmets for all riders.
- The remaining 28 states and Guam require helmets for specific riders.
- 3 states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) do not have a motorcycle helmet law.
Fewer states have enacted bicycle helmet laws. GHSA only tracks state laws. However, many localities require helmet use for some or all bicyclists.
- 21 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands have a helmet law for bicyclists below a certain age, generally about 16.
- Only the Virgin Islands requires helmets for all bicyclists.
- 29 states and Guam have no bicycle helmet law.
NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on helmet laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.
|Universal Helmet Law (Year Enacted)||Partial Law||Universal Helmet Law Repealed|
|Alaska||<18 or instructional permit;
|Colorado||<18; all passengers <18||1977|
|Florida||<21 or those with <$10,000 in medical coverage for motorcycle-related injuries||2000||<16|
|Kentucky||<21 or licensed <1 yr.;
no medical insurance
|Maine||Licensed <1 yr.;
all passengers <18
($25 fine for 2nd or subsequent violation)
|Massachusetts||1967||>1 and <17
|Michigan||<21 or no additional insurance (riders and passengers)||2012|
|Minnesota||<18 or instructional permit||1977|
|New York||1967||>1 and <14
|North Dakota||<18; all passengers if operator is <18||1977|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Yes||<18|
|Ohio||<18 or licensed <1 yr.; all passengers if operator required to wear helmet||1978|
|Pennsylvania||<21 or licensed <2 yrs. except those who complete a PnnDOT- or Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved safety course||2003||<12|
|Rhode Island||<21 or licensed <1 yr.;
|Texas||<21; those who have not completed safety course or have no medical insurance (secondarily enforced)||1997|
|Wisconsin||<18 or instructional permit||1978|
|Totals States||47 + D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands||31 states have had a universal helmet law repealed||21 + D.C., Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands
Age (# of States)
All (Virgin Islands)
<18 (3 + Northern Mariana Islands)
<16 (12 + D.C.)
|19 + D.C., Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands||28 + Guam
Age (# of States)
<18 (18 + Guam)
Passengers <18 (1)