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.
    • 18 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.
    • 29 states and Guam require helmets for specific riders.
  • Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire are the only states that do not have motorcycle helmet laws.

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.

Short Term Description
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. 
Wyoming
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1983.

Wisconsin
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1978.

West Virginia
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1971.

Washington
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1990.

Virginia
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1970.

Virgin Islands
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law.

Vermont
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

Utah
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

Texas
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1997.

Tennessee
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

South Dakota
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

South Carolina
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1980.

Rhode Island
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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.

Puerto Rico
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law.

Pennsylvania
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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.

Oregon
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1988.

Oklahoma
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Ohio
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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.

Northern Mariana Islands
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law.

North Dakota
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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 Universal helmet law repealed 1977.

North Carolina
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

New York
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

New Mexico
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

New Jersey
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1968.

New Hampshire
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

No helmet laws.

Nevada
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1972.

Nebraska
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1989.

Montana
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Missouri
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Motorcyclists may ride without helmets if they are 26 yrs or older and have medical insurance.

Mississippi
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1974.

Minnesota
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Michigan
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Massachusetts
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1967.

Maryland
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1992.

Maine
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Louisiana
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 2004.

Kentucky
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Helmets required for riders under 21 or who have been licensed less than one year. Universal helmet law repealed 1998.

Kansas
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Iowa
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

No helmet laws. Universal helmet law repealed 1976.

Indiana
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Illinois
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

No helmet laws. Universal helmet law repealed 1970.

Idaho
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Hawaii
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Guam
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Georgia
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1969.

Florida
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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.

District of Columbia
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1970.

Delaware
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Connecticut
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Colorado
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

California
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1992.

Arkansas
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Arizona
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Alaska
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

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

Alabama
Motorcycle Helmet Required?

Universal helmet law enacted 1967

States Focus on Impaired Driving Leading into Labor Day Weekend to Prevent Traffic Deaths

As summer winds down and millions of Americans take to the roads for the Labor Day weekend, GHSA is reminding motorists that State Highway Safety Offices and their federal and law enforcement partners are stepping up efforts to reduce drunk and drug-impaired driving, a preventable behavior that puts all road users at risk.

States Focus on Impaired Driving Leading into Labor Day Weekend to Prevent Traffic Deaths

As summer winds down and millions of Americans take to the roads for the Labor Day weekend, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is reminding motorists that State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and their federal and law enforcement partners are stepping up efforts to reduce drunk and drug-impaired driving, a preventable behavior that puts all road users at risk.

Motorcyclists Reluctant to Wear High-Visibility Gear

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2019

CONTACT: Kara Macek, 202-789-0944

New Findings Suggest How to Increase Acceptance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program (NCREP), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a report examining why motorcycle riders choose to wear – or not wear – high-visibility gear and what can be done to encourage greater use rates.

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