Motorcycle Helmet Law in California

Today, I received over a dozen emails from friends around the country in regards to an article I published regarding motorcycle safety tips and precautions.  As always, the feedback has been very positive and I continue to look forward to the exchange of ideas, thoughts, discussion and debate on various topics that I continue to speak on.

In order to clarify, my article on motorcycle safety tips was intended not to be a comprehensive authority on the topic, but rather a quick and easy read on popular safety equipment used by bikers.  Obviously, wearing a helmet and all the safety gear in the world cannot prevent injury in a motorcycle accident, but instead, can “help” prevent injuries.  There is no question that to avoid suffering injuries from a motorcycle accident you must avoid the accident all together.   There simply is no substitution for proper training and experience.

Most of the emails I received today focused on the use of motorcycle helmets in California and the way the Department of Transportation categorizes their requirements of motorcycle helmets.

The use of a helmet can be one of the most single important pieces of safety equipment any rider of a motorcycle must wear. Not only does California law require the use of a helmet by any rider or passenger on a motorcycle, but studies have shown that the use of a helmet can dramatically reduce the risk of head, neck and fatal motorcycle accidents. The DMV notes that the use of a helmet reduces the risk of a head or neck injury by three times. When choosing a helmet, make sure that it is approved by the US Department of Transportation. Helmets that have been approved by the D.O.T are often considered safer and indicative of other features such as cutting down ambient wind noise, reducing fatigue from the wind, protecting your eyes from the wind all of which help you hear and see better.

As several friends so kindly noted, there is no such thing as a helmet that has been approved by the US Department of Transportation.  As set forth in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) known as FMVSS 218 (49CFR571.218), the DOT has established manufacturing standards, which are to be used at the discretion of the manufacturers themselves. Helmets that do not meet the minimal DOT certification standards may not be sold as “motorcycle helmets.” It is at the manufacturer’s discretion to build the helmets according to those standards or not.

Here are some interesting links:


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