A ride on the open roads of Texas is an exhilarating experience. With hundreds of miles of coastal highways, rolling hills and plains, spectacular spring wildflowers, and exceptional scenic views, the Lone Star State is a motorcycle destination that’s welcoming year-round. Unfortunately, the same open-air, two-wheeled design that makes a motorcycle ride so freeing is also the reason that motorcycle riders are highly vulnerable to injuries in an accident.
Helmets can’t prevent all injuries, since the rider’s body is fully exposed to trauma in an accident, but research from the CDC reveals that wearing a helmet significantly increases the chances of survival in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of fatal head injuries by 69%. A helmet is 37% effective in preventing death in riders and 69% effective for passengers.
Before you plan your next Texas ride, it’s important to know the state’s helmet laws.
Do I Have to Wear a Helmet in Texas?
Only 18 U.S. states have universal helmet laws requiring all riders to wear a helmet. Three states have no helmet requirements at all. Texas is one of 29 states with more complex helmet laws. In Texas, motorcyclists must:
- Always wear a helmet if under the age of 21
- Have (and carry proof of) medical insurance if choosing not to wear a helmet if you’re over 21, OR
- Have completed an approved motorcycle operator safety course
Both passengers and riders must meet the same helmet requirements in Texas. Further clouding these nuanced motorcycle helmet laws in Texas is the fact that the law limits a law enforcement officer’s authority to enforce the state’s existing laws.
When Can Texas Law Enforcement Stop a Motorcyclist Without a Helmet?
In Texas, a police officer can only issue a ticket for failing to comply with the state’s complicated helmet law if they’ve pulled the rider over for another infraction, such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign—and then they discover that the rider doesn’t meet the requirement for helmet law exemption. Not wearing a helmet is a secondary offense in this situation while the other infraction or traffic violation is the primary offense. If you are over the age of 21, you have medical insurance, and/or have completed a training course, the officer cannot issue a fine for failing to wear a helmet.
Further complicating matters is the exception to the secondary offense rule in Texas. A law enforcement officer may pull over a rider without a helmet if they suspect the rider is under age 21. This gives officers a lot of leeway to pull over motorcyclists without needing a primary offense.
Texas law protects the rights and freedoms of its citizens, however, it’s highly advisable that ALL motorcycle riders protect themselves and their passengers with helmets.
What is the Fine for Failing to Wear a Helmet in Texas?
If you are under age 21, or you’re over age 21 and don’t have medical insurance or haven’t completed a training course, an officer may issue a citation with a fine of $50.00.
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one are in a motorcycle accident. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Austin motorcycle accident attorneys at Shaw Cowart today.