In spite of the fact that universal mandatory PA motorcycle helmet laws were repealed in 2003, we still get a fair amount of questions at my office regarding who is required to wear a helmet, and what other safety regulations are in place for motorcyclists in the Commonwealth.
Seeing as I have not really addressed the topic head-on recently, I thought it might be a good time for a refresher.
First let me state that as a long time biker and as a PA motorcycle accident attorney, I understand that there are competing values and interests at stake that have to be balanced in this issue.
Safety is obviously paramount, and I would never argue that it is not a good idea for everyone who gets on a bike to wear a helmet.
The numbers don’t lie: if you have an accident, you are safer with a helmet on. On the other hand, some studies indicate that wearing a helmet may actually increase your odds of getting into an accident in the first place. And, of course, many of us simply value the feeling of freedom we get when we head out on the road without them. And finally, I don’t like the idea of the government telling me what to do any more than you do.
Regardless of where you land on these issues, I believe it is important to make an informed decision. Here is how I break the question down based on my years of experience as a motorcycle accident attorney.
PA motorcycle helmet laws and safety refresher
The statute that lays out PA motorcycle helmet laws is actually fairly straightforward in intent, but it probably goes without saying that the language with which it is drafted is not. Let me try to simplify and remove any ambiguity here.
You must wear a helmet if:
- You are younger than 21 (both operators and passengers)
- You are operating on a motorcycle learner’s permit
- You have not been licensed for 2 full calendar years or
- You have not completed a PennDOT or Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety course
You do not have to wear a helmet:
- If you are 21 years old or older, and have been licensed for more than 2 calendar years, or have completed a PennDOT or Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety course
- If you are the passenger of a rider who fits this description, and you are 21 or older
Other key safety requirements in brief:
- All riders and passengers must wear eye protection
- Your headlight must be on, even during the daytime
- You may not ride more than 2 bikes abreast in a single lane
- In-helmet speakers are to be used for communication only
Finally, while the conversation regarding motorcycle safety tends to revolve around the motorcycle helmet law, it’s worth noting that most of my clients do not actually suffer head injuries.
In my practice as a motorcycle injury lawyer, broken bones and “road rash,” are both much more common injuries, both are incredibly painful, and both can lead to significant medical bills, loss of wages, and loss of quality of life.
One last reminder: In addition to being an motorcycle attorney in Pennsylvania, I am also a New Jersey lawyer, and in that state all riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet.
Do you have more questions about PA motorcycle helmet law that I haven’t addressed in this post?
Give me a call now: Lee D. Gaber, Esq., 1-888-cycle-law, 1-888-292-5352 There is never a fee or obligation for your initial consultation.