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What are Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

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Posted By Legal Team | June 12 2024 | Motorcycle Accidents

Just about everybody has an opinion on whether or not there should be a motorcycle helmet law in Florida. Indeed, there actually is a motorcycle helmet law in the state, but it only applies to those who are younger than 21 years of age. Here, we want to review what the Florida motorcycle helmet law actually says, discuss what an approved helmet means, and review some safety data in an attempt to convince everyone, not just the younger crowd, that wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is the best bet for safety.

Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

In Florida, the law requires that all motorcycle riders under 21 years of age have to wear a helmet. This is outlined in Florida Statutes Section 316.211, which specifies that riders and passengers under 21 must wear a helmet that’s securely fastened on their heads and an eye-protective device.

For those 21 and older, wearing a helmet is not mandatory, provided they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage for any injuries caused by a motorcycle accident.

While this exemption gives adult riders the choice, it comes with significant risks. The law aims to balance personal freedom with public safety, but the data on helmet usage underscores the critical importance of wearing a helmet at any age.

What is an Approved Helmet?

An approved helmet must meet the standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These helmets are designed to provide the best possible protection in the event of a crash. To be compliant, helmets must have a DOT sticker, which indicates that the helmet meets the federal safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Approved helmets typically include features such as:

  • Impact-absorbing liner. This liner helps reduce the force of impact on the head during a collision.
  • Sturdy chin straps. These ensure the helmet remains securely fastened during an accident.
  • Durable outer shell. The shell protects against penetration and abrasions.

When purchasing a helmet, it is essential to look for the DOT sticker to ensure it meets these safety standards.

How Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives

Wearing a helmet is a very effective way to protect yourself while riding a motorcycle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that helmets reduce the risk of a fatality by 37% and the risk of head injury by 69%. Despite these statistics, many riders choose to forgo helmets, especially in states like Florida, where the law does not mandate helmet use for adults.

Statistics from the CDC highlight the importance of helmet use:

  • In a recent reporting year, helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets during that year, an estimated additional 802 lives could have been saved.
  • Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing deadly injuries to motorcycle drivers and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.
  • Economic costs. Motorcycle crashes cost billions of dollars in direct costs annually. Helmet use can significantly reduce these costs by preventing severe injuries.

The Case for Wearing a Helmet

While Florida law provides an exemption for riders 21 and older with adequate insurance coverage, the safety benefits of wearing a helmet cannot be overstated. The financial savings from reduced medical bills and the potential to save lives make a compelling case for universal helmet use.

Helmets protect the brain, one of the most vulnerable and critical parts of the body. Even relatively minor collisions can result in severe head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, which can lead to long-term disabilities or death. By wearing a helmet, riders can greatly reduce their risk of catastrophic injury.

In the event that you are injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out to our St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorneys to learn about your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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