What do you think happens to a rider when a motorcycle gets into an accident? There are no seatbelts to hold you safe, and a bike can easily flip and turn without any control.
Buying a new motorcycle can be one of the most exciting days in your life, but you need to make sure that you ride safely and with protection. The Texas motorcycle helmet law sets certain legal requirements on your behalf. Following the law may save your life.
Here’s everything you need to know about state motorcycle helmet laws and why they matter.
Why Motorcycle Safety Matters
Most people have heard the advice to wear a helmet, even as far back as their first bicycle. The purpose of helmets is to protect your head from impacts if you happen to fall off. When it comes to motorcycle accidents, whether or not you wear a helmet can mean the difference between life and death.
Unhelmeted riders are statistically more vulnerable to serious head trauma. According to 2009 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving unhelmeted can double the overall risk of serious or even fatal injury. Furthermore, helmets are 67% effective at preventing serious brain injuries.
The most serious outcome of an auto accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can lead to long-term damage, such as disability or cognitive problems. At worst, it could lead to death.
Full-face helmets can also reduce neck injuries in an accident.
Texas Motorcycle Helmet Law
Texas is one of the few states where you are not legally required to wear a helmet while you ride a motorcycle. However, there are certain conditions you must meet before that applies to you.
Riders need to be 21 years or older, and they have to prove that they’ve completed motorcycle operator training and a safety course. Finally, they need health insurance coverage.
Assuming you meet those requirements, you don’t need a helmet. Failure to meet those requirements means you have to wear one. However, there are plenty of reasons why you should wear a helmet on the road, regardless of the law.
Currently, failure to wear a helmet is considered “secondary enforcement.” This means that a police officer cannot stop a motorcyclist from failing to wear a helmet. The motorcycle helmet law does not require it by default.
Even if a rider was underage or did not have health insurance, the police officer would have to have first pulled them over to find that out.
What this means is that most riders can easily get away with violating this law. As long as they don’t violate a primary offense, like running a red light, the police officer would have no cause to stop them.
Some lawmakers have been trying to revise this law since 2019, but no change has yet been made. Ideally, permitted officers would stop unhelmeted motorcyclists to verify that they have met the requirements.
If you did get pulled over for something like running a red light or stop sign, that is when the police officer would check your age and certifications. Violation of the law could result in a fine of up to $50 on top of the initial fine you’d receive for the primary violation.
In other words, the penalty for violating this law isn’t much. However, it’s a great way to enforce safe habits in young drivers. Since they have to wear a helmet until they’re 21, they’ll get used to it and see the merit in the extra protection.
Comparative Fault in Accidents
Another reason to pay attention to the motorcycle helmet laws in Texas is how they can affect your claim after an auto accident.
It’s already been established that wearing a helmet can severely reduce the injuries you sustain after an accident. Refusing to wear one shows the other driver and their insurance company that the lack of a helmet may have exacerbated your injuries.
While that won’t completely protect the other driver at fault, it can reduce the amount of your claim.
Texas is a “modified” comparative negligence state. Even if you caused an accident, the court may decide that the other driver isn’t owed full compensation. This may be because they didn’t wear a seatbelt, lacked a rearview mirror, or were negligent in some other way.
Proposed Changes to the Law
The new House Bill 748 was previously mentioned as a way for police officers to pull over motorcycle riders without helmets. However, many riders are against it because it goes against their “right” to ride how they like.
One reason people are against the bill is that it would give police officers too much power. After passing, it would cause a lot of traffic stops and force riders to carry proof of their health insurance coverage and training.
Regardless of the law, it’s highly recommended that all motorcyclists wear helmets for their safety and the mental well-being of other drivers.
How to Protect Yourself on the Road
Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous when things go wrong. Texas motorcycle helmet laws can only do so much to keep you safe on the road.
First and foremost, get a helmet. It’s one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have, as a single blow to the head can mean the end. Some of your options include half helmets, open-faced helmets, and modular helmets. There are also full-faced options and helmet headsets you can purchase.
Next, wear protective clothing that covers your legs and arms. This can mean a shirt with a leather jacket, jeans, and closed-toe shoes. You should not be riding around in just a short-sleeve shirt and shorts, as the road will tear you up if you crash.
Finally, drive safely. You don’t need to be the fastest one on the road, and poor weather conditions can affect your bike handling.
Ride Without Fear of Injury
Driving an ordinary car is nothing compared to riding a motorcycle, as your body is constantly exposed to the elements. You deserve to enjoy the experience as long as you do so with as much protection as you can handle. The Texas motorcycle helmet law is one way in which lawmakers hope to keep you safe on the road.
Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands is an authorized dealer located near Houston, Texas. We have a wide selection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles for sale, as well as gear and motorcycle accessories. Check out our inventory online and contact us with any questions.
Harley Davidson of The Woodlands
Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.