Motorcycle Helmet Safety Laws in Virginia
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Laws in Virginia
Not all states require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Virginia does. Although some riders object to wearing helmets, safety studies suggest they reduce the chances of sustaining a fatal brain injury.
Statistically, accidents are more likely to claim the lives of motorcyclists. Even those who survive bike wrecks can be left with terrible injuries. A helmet is no guarantee you will emerge unscathed from a bike crash but it will increase your odds of survival.
Many motorcyclists are killed and seriously injured by car, truck, van, and SUV drivers who fail to see them. It’s important to hire a Virginia trial injury lawyer who will fight for your rights after a motorcycle accident.
What are Virginia’s Motorcycle Safety Laws?
Virginia enacted § 46.2-910 in 2006. The law states riders must wear a face shield, goggles or safety glasses or have a windscreen. Both operators and passengers must wear helmets. The law also applies to certain moped and scooter riders.
However, operators and passengers riding on motorcycles with wheels of eight inches or less in diameter or on three-wheeled motorcycles or autocycles with non-removable roofs, windshields, and enclosed bodies are not required to wear protective helmets.
Windshields, face shields, glasses or goggles, and protective helmets worn by riders must meet or exceed the standards and specifications set out by the American National Standards Institute, Inc., the Snell Memorial Foundation, or the federal Department of Transportation.
The law states the requirement to wear helmets and other facial protection does not apply to riders or passengers in an organized parade held with permission of the Department of Transportation or a Virginia city when there is a police escort and speeds do not exceed 15 mph.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Laws in Virginia – Evidence Helmets Save Lives
Most safety agencies agree motorcycle helmets save lives and protect riders from more serious injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016.
The CDC states 802 more people would have survived that year if all motorcyclists wore helmets. The United States would save $1 billion in economic costs if all riders wore helmets.
The CDC states helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of a head injury by 69 percent. Studies show as many as 75 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve head and brain injuries. Rotational forces on the brain are the main cause of deaths in biker accidents.
Do All States Require Riders to Wear Helmets?
Motorcycle helmet laws vary dramatically from state to state. Fewer states require them than was the case 50 years ago
At present, 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. These require all riders to wear a helmet.
A further 28 states have less strict laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet. The states of Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no helmet laws.
A federal law enacted in 1967 required states to enact helmet use laws to qualify for highway building programs and certain federal funds. Almost all states enacted universal helmet laws by the early 1970s. However, in 1976, the states successfully lobbied Congress to prevent the Department of Transportation from imposing financial penalties on states without helmet laws.
There is some evidence repealing these laws led to more injuries and deaths. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported higher personal injury payouts in Michigan after it repealed its helmet law.
It reported the average insurance payment on a motorcycle injury claim increased substantially after the state weakened its helmet use law to exempt most riders in 2012.
Will Failure to Wear a Helmet Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia?
State law points out the failure to wear a helmet, safety goggles, a protective helmet or a face shield will not amount to negligence in a civil proceeding. Riders who were injured due to the fault of another party in Virginia can still sue if they were not wearing a helmet.
Nevertheless, you should wear a helmet and other protective gear because it is the law and it will improve your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident or escaping without serious head injuries.
There are many causes of motorcycle injuries in Virginia. Riders are subjected to intense forces. Head injuries are one of the most common causes of fatal motorcycle accidents.
Call an Experienced Virginia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you or a family member has been involved in an accident, you will need to recover as much as possible for your injuries. Some riders never make a full recovery from a traumatic brain injury. The Smith Law Center has represented many people who suffered serious head injuries. Call us for a free consultation at 757.244.7000.