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Motorcycle helmet law Texas

Motorcycle helmet law TexasAs an independent insurance agent in Texas, I understand the importance of staying informed about state laws that affect your safety and insurance coverage. Regarding motorcycle riding in the Lone Star State, one crucial aspect to consider is the motorcycle helmet law. In Texas, the law requires all motorcyclists under 21 to wear helmets. For those over 21, helmets are optional, provided they have completed an approved motorcycle operator training course or have medical insurance coverage that includes motorcycle accident injuries.

It’s essential to note that while Texas law offers some flexibility for riders over 21, the decision to wear a helmet should not be taken lightly. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of death and brain injury in the event of a crash. As your insurance advisor, I also want to highlight that Texas has specific liability coverage requirements for motorcycle insurance, including bodily injury and property damage liability, designed to protect you financially in case of an accident.


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Understanding these laws and insurance requirements is not just about compliance; it’s about making informed decisions that affect your safety and financial well-being. As we explore the nuances of motorcycle helmet laws and insurance coverage in Texas, remember that as an independent agent, I’m here to help you navigate these regulations and find the coverage that best suits your needs. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or new to the motorcycle community, staying informed is the key to enjoying Texas’s open roads with peace of mind.

Impact on Insurance Coverage

In Texas, motorcycle riders over 21 are not required to wear a helmet if they meet one of two criteria: they have completed a motorcycle safety course or have health insurance that can cover accident injuries. The law does not provide specific coverage amounts a rider needs to be excused from wearing a helmet. Simply offering proof of insurance, like a valid insurance card, is considered sufficient proof.

While not wearing a helmet does not prevent you from receiving compensation in the event of an accident, it can affect a personal injury claim. This is primarily due to comparative fault laws in Texas, which allow the courts to hold multiple parties responsible for their “percentage of the harm.” If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and were not wearing a helmet, the other party may claim that your choice to go helmet-less caused more significant injury to yourself. A judge may assign you partial blame for the damage, potentially reducing your compensation.

Even in states that require all riders to wear helmets, insurers cannot police which policyholders are protecting themselves with a helmet. Choosing to wear a helmet will not directly reduce your motorcycle insurance rate, but it can stop your future premiums from rising by preventing injury-related claims. The amount of the increase can depend on the frequency and severity of the claims you file. A helmet won’t protect your motorcycle from theft or falling trees, but it can reduce the extent of your injuries and medical bills. This, in turn, can reduce how much motorcycle insurers raise your rates at renewal.

Enforcement and Penalties

In Texas, the enforcement of helmet laws is secondary, meaning that a motorcyclist cannot be stopped solely to check for helmet law compliance. State police are not allowed to stop a motorcyclist riding without a helmet to determine if the rider meets the criteria for helmet exemption, such as having completed a motorcycle operator training course or having medical insurance coverage covering motorcycle accident injuries.

If a motorcyclist is caught without a helmet and does not meet the exemption criteria, they can face penalties. For first-time offenders, the fine can be up to $250. Some sources suggest a smaller fine of up to $50 for first-time offenders. Not wearing a helmet is considered a secondary offense, meaning a ticket for violating the helmet law will only be issued if the motorcyclist has already been pulled over for another traffic violation. For each subsequent offense, penalties can include higher fines and potentially suspending the rider’s license. However, the exact escalation of penalties for repeat offenses is not specified in the search results.

Exceptions and Regulations

In Texas, the law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers under 21 to wear helmets, with no exceptions. However, riders over the age of 21 can ride without a helmet if they meet certain conditions. These conditions include completing an approved motorcycle operator training course or having medical insurance coverage covering motorcycle accident injuries.

As for helmet standards, Texas law requires that when a helmet is worn, it must meet specific safety standards. The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) prescribes minimum safety standards for protective headgear used by motorcycle operators and passengers. The department may adopt any part or all of the American National Standards Institute’s safety standards for protective headgear. Helmets that meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 are compliant. It’s recommended to look for a helmet that meets higher safety standards and is approved by independent safety organizations like Snell or ANSI.

Motorcycle Operator Training Course

All new motorcycle license applicants must have taken and completed a Texas-approved Motorcycle Safety Course in Texas. This course is a requirement for helmet law exemption and for obtaining a motorcycle license. The Basic and Advanced Motorcycle Operator Training Courses meet the helmet exemption requirement. The completion of the Basic Class or the Intermediate Class will satisfy this requirement.

Motorcycle License Requirements

To obtain a Class M driver’s license in Texas, individuals must take an approved motorcycle safety course and bring the certificate of completion. Vision and Knowledge Tests may be required for a motorcycle license. The motorcycle knowledge test is waived for persons presenting a valid Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate.

Individuals under 18 must apply in person at a Texas Driver’s License office and complete the requirements for an original applicant. They must present a Motorcycle Safety Course (MSB-8 or MSB-8R) completion certificate and a Class C Provisional license.

Individuals 18 years of age or older living outside of Texas but wanting to add a Class M license to their existing Class B or C Texas driver’s license must complete a motorcycle safety course approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Equipment Requirements

Texas law requires the following equipment on Motorcycles and Motor-Driven Cycles: Wheel Assembly, Exhaust System, Tail Lamp, Stop Lamp, License Plate Lamp, Rear Red Reflector, Head Lamp (modulating permitted), Vehicle Identification Number, Horn, Mirror, Steering, Brakes, and Tires.

Motorcycles must have their headlights on at all times while being operated. The handlebars of a motorcycle cannot be higher than the shoulder height of the operator while seated. If a motorcycle carries a passenger, the bike must be equipped with footrests for the passenger’s use.

Safety Benefits of Wearing Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are crucial safety equipment that significantly reduces the risk of death and brain injury in the event of an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motorcycle helmet use saves more than 1,800 lives each year, and an estimated 800 more lives could be saved if all riders chose to wear motorcycle helmets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates motorcycle helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers. Helmets also reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.

Helmets contain a cushioned foam layer that helps redistribute the force of a collision, protecting riders from severe head and neck injuries. Despite these benefits, helmet use has decreased from 69% in 2020 to 64.9% in 2021.

Legal Implications in Accidents

In terms of legal implications, not wearing a helmet does not change the determination of liability in the event of an accident. Suppose another motorist was responsible for causing the accident. In that case, the decision to ride without a helmet will not interfere with the ability to pursue a claim against the at-fault motorist.

However, not wearing a helmet could impact the total compensation that might be recoverable. If injuries were sustained in areas other than the head, the insurance company should not be allowed to use the lack of a helmet to claim partial responsibility. For example, if severe injuries were sustained to the legs and abdominal organs, the fact that a helmet was not worn should not matter.

It’s important to note that these legal implications can vary by state and jurisdiction, and it’s always recommended to consult with a legal professional to understand the potential impact of not wearing a helmet on a personal injury claim.

motorcycle insurance requirements in Texas

In Texas, motorcycles are treated like cars regarding registration, titling, and insurance requirements. The minimum liability limits for motorcycle insurance are $30,000 for each injured person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is often referred to as 30/60/25 coverage.

Motorcyclists in Texas can pay extra for additional types of vehicle insurance. For instance, if a motorcyclist wishes to have insurance pay for their damage after an accident, they will need to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage.

Texas law requires all registered vehicle operators, including motorcyclists, to carry at least the minimum required amounts of liability insurance. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is also available to pay for an accident with someone who doesn’t have sufficient insurance.

Texas also allows drivers and motorcyclists to use an alternate type of proof of financial responsibility. This can be met with a $55,000 deposit to the county clerk, a surety bond with the county clerk and two others who own real property in Texas, or certification of self-insurance through the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

It’s important to note that operating a motorcycle without the required insurance or proof of financial responsibility is against the law in Texas. Therefore, motorcyclists must ensure they meet these requirements before hitting the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to wear a helmet in Texas on a motorcycle?
Yes, in Texas, motorcyclists under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet. Riders over the age of 21 can choose not to wear a helmet if they have completed an approved motorcycle operator training course or have medical insurance coverage that covers motorcycle accident injuries.
What states do not require a helmet on a motorcycle?
Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire are the only states that do not have motorcycle helmet laws.
What are the helmet exemptions in Texas?
In Texas, riders over the age of 21 are exempt from wearing a helmet if they have completed an approved motorcycle operator training course or have medical insurance coverage that covers motorcycle accident injuries.
Who is eligible for helmet exemption in Texas?
Riders who are 21 or older and can provide proof that they have completed a motorcycle operator training course or have medical insurance coverage that covers motorcycle accident injuries are eligible for helmet exemption in Texas.
Can you get a ticket for not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle in Texas?
Yes, riders under the age of 21 who are caught not wearing a helmet in Texas can be ticketed and fined. The first offense can result in a fine of up to $50. Repeated offenses can result in higher fines and even suspension of the rider’s license.