Each year, more than 2,200 people die and more than 55,000 are injured in motorcycle accidents nationwide. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), had these individuals been wearing helmets, many of the deaths and disabling head injuries could have been prevented. This is because a helmet is the motorcyclist’s most effective piece of safety equipment.

Accident involving a motorcycle where the rider did not follow the motorcycle helmet laws

Even though there are other things motorcyclists can do to be safe on the roadway such as undergoing a comprehensive motorcycle safety program, rider training, motorcycle licensing and alcohol and drug education, helmets are still crucial to preventing head injury, which is the leading cause of death and catastrophic injury in a motorcycle accident. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,630 motorcyclists in 2013 and that 715 more lives in all states could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

Understanding Helmet Laws

Man following the motorcycle helmet laws as he rides his motorcycleMotorcycle helmet laws vary even among different states in the New England area. In Rhode Island, only motorcycle operators under 21 are required to wear a helmet. All new operators, regardless of age, must wear a helmet for one year after their motorcycle operator’s license is issued. The law in Rhode Island also requires operators regardless of age to wear eye protection at all times. All motorcycle passengers must also wear helmets. The helmets and eye protection must be certified by the state’s Administrator of the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Massachusetts on the other hand has some of the most stringent motorcycle helmet laws in the country. The law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers regardless of age to wear state-approved helmets and protective headgear. This includes those in motorcycle sidecars. This law was passed in 1967 and has not been significantly changed since although several legislative attempts have been made.

Choosing the Right Helmet

motorcycle helmet and riding gloves to protect a motorcyclist when ridingBefore you buy a helmet, here are a few tips that can help:

  • The helmet should be the right shape and size depending on the shape of your head. It needs to fit snugly on your head. You will get little protection from wearing a poorly fitted helmet.
  • You should be able to see clearly through your visor. Choose a helmet with an anti-fog coating and an internal sun visor.
  • Make sure your helmet is certified. Novelty helmets or cheap ones that don’t meet safety standards, again, will offer little protection in the event of a crash.
  • If your helmet is old, worn-out, or damaged, replace it. The inner foam shell of most helmets can degrade over time. So, replacing your helmet at least once every five years is recommended.

If You Have Been Injured

RI motorcycle accident lawyer helping client injured in motorcycle accidentThe experienced Rhode Island motorcycle accident attorneys at d’Oliveira & Associates understand that accidents do happen regardless of the number of safety precautions motorcyclists take. We can help you hold the at-fault parties accountable and help you secure compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, disabilities and pain and suffering. Call us at 1-800-992-6878 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.

Author Photo

Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 15 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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