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Does Pennsylvania Have Motorcycle Helmet Requirements?

Many people in Pennsylvania enjoy riding a motorcycle. The state also receives countless visitors who ride their bikes into the Keystone State.

As an established Philadelphia law firm, we receive many questions from the public. One question we receive is, “Does Pennsylvania have a helmet law?” The answer is “yes, but it’s a little complicated.” That might not be the type of answer you want to hear, but we will go into more detail below.

Does PA Have a Motorcycle Helmet Law?

Generally, anyone under the age of 21 must wear a helmet on a motorcycle. So if you are 20 and want to go riding in our state, then you should have a helmet on.

Riders over 21 are also required to wear a helmet though they can get out of the requirement if they meet one of the following:

  • You have at least 2 years of the motorcycle experience.
  • You have finished a motorcycle safety course approved by the state’s Department of Transportation or by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

You only need one or the other. So if you are 21 but have been riding for 5 years, you don’t need a helmet. However, if you have only just started riding a motorcycle at age 30, you need a helmet unless you have taken an approved safety course.

What Are other Pennsylvania Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

If you need to wear a helmet, then you should realize that not any helmet will do. Instead, you need a helmet that meets federal standards, in particular, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 218. This law was designed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) based on safety research.

When shopping for a helmet, check that it is DOT approved. There should be a sticker somewhere on the helmet, probably on the back. If the helmet does not meet DOT requirements, then it does not comply with state law.

You might also read that a helmet is “Snell certified.” This is a different certification, which is allegedly much more demanding than the requirements from the DOT. Snell certification is optional and not required for a helmet sold in the U.S. You can choose to buy a Snell-certified helmet, but most importantly your helmet must be DOT approved.

Why Should I Wear a Helmet if I Am Over 21?

Experienced riders will still benefit from wearing a helmet even if they are not required to under Pennsylvania law. Helmets have been shown to dramatically increase a rider’s safety:

  • A helmet can reduce the chance of a serious brain injury by 69%
  • A helmet can reduce fatalities by 73%.

These statistics are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some estimates suggest that the safety benefits are even higher than those cited above.

Also, helmets do not significantly reduce a rider’s field of vision or ability to hear, so riding with a helmet is very safe to do.

How Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect My Motorcycle Accident Case?

If you are on a motorcycle and get involved in a collision, then you could suffer serious injuries. When someone else is to blame for the accident, they should pay you compensation.

Pennsylvania also recognizes that motorcyclists can sometimes contribute to their accidents and injuries by being negligent. When a victim does not wear a helmet, a question almost always arises: was the motorcyclist partially to blame for his or her injuries?

If you suffer a concussion but did not wear a helmet, the driver who hit you could claim you are partly to blame for the concussion. If a jury agrees, then the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced by your percentage off fault. Even worse, if a jury finds that you were 51% or more responsible for your injuries, you will not receive any compensation at all.

Speak with a Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

We hope this article convinces you to put on a helmet any time you go out on the road, regardless of whether the law requires one.

If you have been injured in a crash, contact PhillyLaw today. We are an experienced law firm that has helped many injured motorcyclists like you. If you call 215-515-2050, you can meet with one of our Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyers for a free initial case review.



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