Texas Motorcycle Laws – Do Motorcyclists Have to Wear a Helmet?

by Tim O’Hare

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Texas laws require all motorcycle, motor scooter and moped operators and passengers to wear helmets meeting the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 (FMVSS #218). But, there is one exception. Individuals at least 21 years-old are exempt from wearing a helmet while operating or riding a motorcycle if they have completed a Department-approved Motorcycle Operator Training Course or they can provide proof of at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage.

Texas law also prohibits police officers and highway patrol from stopping or detaining a motorcyclist for the sole purpose of determining whether or not they have completed a motorcycle safety course or are covered by insurance.

Although state law does not require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, the fact remains that wearing a helmet while riding or driving a motorcycle can save your life in the event of a motorcycle accident. Wearing a motorcycle helmet dramatically reduces the risk of brain injury and death in a crash. Wearing a helmet can also lower your risk of cervical spine injury in the event of an accident, according to research from Johns Hopkins.

Even if the law does not require you to wear a helmet while driving or riding on a motorcycle, think twice before making the decision to ride without one.  Wearing a helmet is a small price to pay considering that helmet could save your life in an accident.

If you want to be sure you buy a safe helmet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides these tips on what to look for when purchasing a motorcycle helmet:

  • Thick inner liner – Helmets meeting the minimum Federal safety standards typically have a firm, polystyrene foam inner liner that is about one-inch thick. If a helmet has soft foam padding or a bare plastic shell with no padding at all, it is not a safe helmet.
  • Sturdy chin strap and rivets – A helmet should have sturdy chin straps with solid rivets to keep the helmet securely in place on the wearer’s head.
  • Weight of helmet – Helmets meeting the Federal safety standards usually weigh about three pounds. Lightweight helmets are generally unsafe.
  • Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker – Helmets meeting the Federal safety standards are required to have a sticker on the outside back of the helmet with the letters “DOT,” certifying that the helmet meets standards outlined in FMVSS 218.
  • Snell or American National Standards Institute sticker – A helmet meeting safety requirements may be additionally certified by private, non-profit organizations like Snell or American National Standards Institute, in which case it would have a sticker indicating certification.
  • Manufacturer’s label – FMVSS 218 requires helmet manufacturers to place a label inside the helmet stating the manufacturer’s name, model, size, month and year the helmet was made, construction materials and owner’s information. If a helmet does not have this label, it should be considered unsafe.

For more information on helmet safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration page on Motorcycles.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a family member in a motorcycle accident, contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare, the Dallas personal injury attorney who has been riding motorcycles for most of his adult life. Hiring a lawyer who also rides to handle your motorcycle case is the right choice.

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