Nick O’Leary, former tight end for the Buffalo Bills and grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus (and a Florida State University football player) was involved in an accident when his motorcycle collided with a Lexus. Despite the horrific nature of the crash, he walked away with only relatively minor injuries. Not everyone is so lucky. Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that in the year 2011 there were 8,621 motorcycle crashes that resulted in 451 deaths and 7,970 injuries.
While wearing protective headgear has been reported to reduce the incidence of injury and death from motorcycle crashes, Florida replaced its universal helmet law with a new statute in 2000, under which two types of protective equipment, helmets and eye protection, need only be worn by some groups of motorcycle riders.
Who is Required to Wear Protective Headgear?
You need to wear a helmet if:
You are under 21. If you are the driver, you also need eye protection.
You are under 16 and are the driver or passenger of a moped.
You don’t need a helmet if:
You are a passenger in an enclosed cab.
You are over 16 and are the driver or passenger of a motorcycle that is 50cc or less, has not more than 2 brake horsepower and cannot go more than 30 miles per hour.
You are over 21 and have appropriate insurance. If you are the driver, you still need eye protection. The insurance policy must provide at least $10,000 of medical coverage.
What Type of Protective Headgear is Acceptable?
The helmet must meet federal standards, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has produced a guide to identifying safe helmets. When it comes to suitable eye protection, sunglasses and eyeglasses are unacceptable and, in general, goggles and face shields attached to approved helmets are fine. Note that novelty helmets do not usually meet federal standards, so you should not use them.