New York Motorcycle Helmet Laws

new york motorcycle helmet lawsThere are a lot of motorcyclists and bikers on New York’s roads. While roadways can be dangerous for all motorists, the dangers may be more pronounced for motorcyclists, who, upon impact, are not surrounded by the walls of a car frame. A slight fender bender for the driver of an SUV can be absolutely devastating for a motorcycle rider or motorcycle passenger.

It is for this reason that New York State law requires the use of motorcycle helmets for drivers and their passengers.

Statistics released by the New York State Department of Health reinforce why motorcyclists are required by law to wear helmets. According to the NYS Department of Health, head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes and 1,722 motorcyclists nationwide were “saved” by wearing their helmets. In addition, motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders, with a higher rate of 42% effectiveness for passengers. Indeed, according to the Department, helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries in crashes, and riders without helmets are three times more likely to have a brain injury as a result of a crash than their helmeted counterparts.

Do You Have to Wear a Helmet on a Motorcycle in New York?

As these facts and statistics illustrate, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets in New York. It is not only the law, but it can be a matter of life and death.

But not just any helmet will suffice. Under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, it is “unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards.”

Those federal standards establish minimum performance requirements for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists and other motor vehicle users, with a purpose of: “reduc[ing] deaths and injuries to motorcyclists and other motor vehicle users resulting from head impacts.”

Motorcycle Helmet Law Federal Standards

As you can expect, the federal standards contain a dizzying array of technical requirements, including:

S5.4 Configuration. Each helmet shall have a protective surface of continuous contour at all points on or above the test line described in S6.2.3. The helmet shall provide peripheral vision clearance of at least 105° to each side of the mid-sagittal plane, when the helmet is adjusted as specified in S6.3. The vertex of these angles, shown in Figure 3, shall be at the point on the anterior surface of the reference headform at the intersection of the mid-sagittal and basic planes. The brow opening of the helmet shall be at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) above all points in the basic plane that are within the angles of peripheral vision (see Figure 3).

To ensure a motorcycle helmet meets the federal standards and other standards put forth by the Commission of Motor Vehicles, it is important to purchase the helmet from reputable sellers and to ensure that the helmet bears a sticker guaranteeing it is certified by the Department of Transportation. Be on the lookout for counterfeits or knockoffs. You want to make sure you are wearing the real thing. You should research to ensure the one on your head is genuine.

Hurt Riding a Motorcycle? Call William Mattar.

Practice Areas | No Fee Until We WinSM | Contact Now

If you are injured in a motorcycle crash, give the motorcycle accident attorneys at William Mattar Law Offices a call at (844) 444-4444. We are happy to take a look at your case to see if you have a potential claim.