Motorcyclists

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, D.C., Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a helmet law for motorcyclists.
    • 19 states, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a universal helmet law, requiring helmets for all riders.
    • 28 states and Guam require helmets for specific riders.
  • 3 states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) do not have a motorcycle 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.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

  • Alabama

    Universal helmet law enacted 1967

  • Alaska

    Helmet required for riders under 18 or with instructional permit; all passengers must wear helmet. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Arizona

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Arkansas

    Helmets required for riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1997.

  • California

    Universal helmet law enacted 1992.

  • Colorado

    Helmets required for all riders and passengers under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Connecticut

    Helmets required for all riders under 17. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Delaware

    Helmets required for all riders under 19. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

  • District of Columbia

    Universal helmet law enacted 1970.

  • Florida

    Helmets required for riders under 21 or those with less than $10,000 in medical coverage for motorcycle-related injuries. Universal helmet law repealed in 2000.

  • Georgia

    Universal helmet law enacted 1969.

  • Guam

    Helmets required for all riders and passengers under 18 and drivers licensed for fewer than 3 years.

  • Hawaii

    Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Idaho

    Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

  • Illinois

    Universal helmet law repealed 1970.

  • Indiana

    Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Iowa

    Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Kansas

    Helmets required for all riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Kentucky

    Helmets required for riders under 21 or who have been licensed less than one year, as well as those without medical insurance. Universal helmet law repealed 1998.

  • Louisiana

    Universal helmet law enacted 2004.

  • Maine

    Helmets required for riders licensed less than one year as well as for all passengers under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Maryland

    Universal helmet law enacted 1992.

  • Massachusetts

    Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

  • Michigan

    Helmets required for riders under 21 or for riders and passengers without additional insurance. Universal helmet law repealed 2012.

  • Minnesota

    Helmets required for all riders under 18 or with instructional permit. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Mississippi

    Universal helmet law enacted 1974.

  • Missouri

    Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

  • Montana

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Nebraska

    Universal helmet law enacted 1989.

  • Nevada

    Universal helmet law enacted 1972.

  • New Hampshire

    No helmet laws.

  • New Jersey

    Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

  • New Mexico

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • New York

    Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

  • North Carolina

    Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

  • North Dakota

    Helmets required for all riders under 18 and all passengers if operator is under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    Universal helmet law.

  • Ohio

    Helmets required for riders under 18 or who have been licensed for less than one year as well as for all passengers when the operator is required to wear a helmet. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

  • Oklahoma

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • Oregon

    Universal helmet law enacted 1988.

  • Pennsylvania

    Helmets required for all riders under 21 or who have been licensed for less than 2 years, except those who complete a PennDOT- or Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved safety course. Universal helmet law repealed 2003.

  • Puerto Rico

    Universal helmet law.

  • Rhode Island

    Helmets required for all riders under 21 or who have been licensed less than one year; helmets required for all passengers. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

  • South Carolina

    Helmets required for all riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1980.

  • South Dakota

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Tennessee

    Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

  • Texas

    Helmets required for all riders under 21 as well as those who have not completed a safety course or have no medical insurance (secondarily enforced). Universal helmet law repealed 1997.

  • Utah

    Helmets required for all riders under 21. Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

  • Vermont

    Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

  • Virgin Islands

    Universal helmet law.

  • Virginia

    Universal helmet law enacted 1970.

  • Washington

    Universal helmet law enacted 1990.

  • West Virginia

    Universal helmet law enacted 1971.

  • Wisconsin

    Helmets required for riders under 18 or with instructional permit. Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

  • Wyoming

    Helmets required for riders under 18. Universal helmet law repealed 1983.