Riding a motorcycle can be a thrilling, exhilarating experience. Just ask any bike enthusiast, and the person will tell you how amazing it can be to cruise down the open road on a beautiful day. Riding also comes with some risks, just like driving a car does. However, riders have more exposure to dangers and a greater likelihood of more severe injuries in accidents. Helmets can provide protection against head injuries in the event of crashes. Many places in the U.S. even require riders to wear them, but some do not. Other states have trickier laws, as a motorcycle accident lawyer in Memphis, TN from Patterson Bray, can explain.

Where All Riders Must Wear Helmets

In some parts of the country, you must wear a helmet every time you get on the back of a motorcycle. If you don’t, a police officer could cite you. There are 19 states where it is against the law for anyone to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. These are Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. In addition, this law is in full force for everyone in Washington, D.C.

Under 21

Other places are more lenient on this law but still require some riders to have the protection of a helmet. In 10 states, anyone under the age of 21 must wear this equipment, or they will violate the law. States with this law are the following: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

Under 18

The youngest riders have to comply with helmet laws in just about every state. There are 17 states where any motorcycle rider under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. This includes Colorado, where riders and passengers under 18 must wear this protection. Other states where riders in this age group must comply are the following: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

No Law

It may surprise you that there are three U.S. states where no one is required to wear a helmet to operate a motorcycle. In Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, there is no such restriction.

Many people believe helmets should be required for everyone everywhere because of the protection they provide and because of the burden that can fall upon the health care system when people fail to wear helmets and get into accidents. It is valuable to know where and under what circumstances you will have to wear this gear the next time you ride your motorcycle.