Some motorcyclists want to feel the wind in their hair and the slightly rebellious feeling that comes from living on the edge, so they leave home without a helmet. Texas laws require most drivers to wear helmets on motorcycles with some exceptions. Regardless of the laws, wearing a helmet is always a good idea.
Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws
In general, every driver operating a motorcycle, moped, or scooter must wear a helmet in Texas. Unlike other states, however, Texas offers an exception to the rule. If a motorcyclist is 21 years old or older and has finished a state-approved motorcycle operator training course or can demonstrate a minimum of $10,000 in medical insurance coverage, then that rider can opt out of wearing a helmet.
The laws go one step forward to protect helmet-less riders. A law enforcement officer cannot stop a motorcyclist without a helmet to confirm safety course completion or insurance coverage. An officer may only detain a motorcyclist if he or she can demonstrate probable cause that the motorcyclist has committed an offense.
Why You Should Wear a Motorcycle Helmet Anyway
Texas may not require a helmet for certain motorcyclists, but every motorcyclist should consider the consequences of failing to use a helmet on Texas roadways. In 2015, the most recent data available, 459 motorcyclists and passengers lost their lives in Texas. Fifty-two percent chose not to wear helmets on the day they died.
Motorcycles do not provide any basic protection from blunt force trauma. Head trauma is a real and serious risk in all types of motorcycle accidents. Unlike broken bones and road rash, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries may never heal with time.
A helmet is not comfortable to wear on hot days, but it could mean enjoying those days longer. In Texas, the number of distracted, drunk, and reckless drivers on the roadways is just too high to justify riding without a helmet. You might drive safely, but you cannot ensure others will do the same.
What to Look for in a Motorcycle Helmet
You’ll find six basic types of safety standard approved helmets on the market today ranging from half helmets to full-face and modular varieties. Full face, modular, off-road, and hybrid helmets offer protection elements to cover the entire head and face, whereas open face and half helmets leave the face and parts of the head exposed to the elements.
In each helmet type, look for a DOT sticker on the back and then evaluate the individual components of the helmet. High-quality helmets will feature a reinforced shell, a Styrofoam-like liner designed to absorb impact, soft padding for fit and comfort, and a chin strap that fits snugly but not uncomfortably under the chin.
A helmet should not easily slide off your head, but it should not cause an uncomfortable level of compression when worn either. Try on different styles and move around with the helmet on to check for movement, visibility, and comfort.
Quality motorcycle helmets aren’t the most inexpensive accessories, but they provide the most important piece of protection you can wear. Manufacturers designed most helmets to last through one crash. Purchase a replacement if your helmet suffers damage or is involved in any accident involving head impact.
Helmet Use and Personal Injury Claim
Consider wearing a helmet to protect your rights in personal injury claims. If you choose not to wear a helmet and to pursue an injury claim against a negligent driver, the defense may try to assume of risk argument against your claim.
In not wearing a helmet, motorcyclists should reasonably know the risk of head injuries in any incident will increase. This argument will not work for claims involving bodily road rash or a broken femur but could bar a plaintiff from recovering damages for resulting head injuries. When it comes to wearing a helmet, it’s better to be safe than sorry.