Florida’s helmet law states that all riders younger than 21 must wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. The law also states that all riders regardless of age should wear protective eye gear when riding on public roads.
In July 2020, Florida repealed its previous law, which required riders of all ages to wear helmets.
Florida’s Helmet Law for Motorcycle Riders
In Florida, only motorcycle riders under 21 years of age are required to wear helmets. However, prior to July 1, 2020, the helmet law applied to all riders regardless of their age.
How Is Florida’s Helmet Law Enforced?
Florida requires all riders between the ages of 16 and 21 to wear a helmet. All riders are also required to wear protective eyewear as well. Motorcycle helmets must also comply with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Riders are not required to wear a helmet if they are riding in an enclosed cab.
In spite of these legal requirements, there is nothing in the state’s laws that say whether law enforcement officers enforce the use of a helmet as a primary or secondary offense. Police can stop motorcycle riders not wearing helmets to check for information such as their age and insurance status. However, many refrain from doing so because it’s impossible to determine some riders’ ages from afar. In most cases, police will only enforce Florida’s helmet law because of a separate issue such as a traffic violation.
Who Needs to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Florida?
In Florida, all motorcycle operators and passengers ranging between 16 and 21 years of age must wear a helmet.
Understanding Exceptions to Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Law
Although Florida’s helmet law applies to anyone between 16 and 21 while riding a motorcycle, there are some exceptions. Anyone 21 and over who is covered by an insurance policy that includes at least $10,000 in medical benefits does not have to wear a helmet. This is because that level of coverage is sufficient in covering any injuries the person might sustain if they’re involved in a motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle riders 21 and older are also exempt from wearing a helmet if they can demonstrate that they’re covered by an insurance policy of at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.
What Is the Age Exemption in Florida’s Helmet Law?
Florida’s helmet law has an age exemption for those 21 and over if they carry at least $10,000 in medical benefits in their insurance coverage. This coverage can pay for any injuries the person suffers in the event of a motorcycle crash.
What Is the Helmet Exemption in Florida’s Helmet Law?
There is an exemption for motorcycle riders over 21 years old in Florida if they carry $10,000 or more in insurance coverage that could pay for injuries if they get into a motorcycle crash.
Which Vehicles Do Florida’s Helmet Law Not Apply To?
Some motorcycles include a closed cab attached to the vehicle. Florida’s helmet law does not apply to anyone riding in an enclosed cab. The law also does not apply to any riders 16 or older who ride a motorcycle of less than 50 cc or that never travel at speeds higher than 30 miles per hour while on level ground.
What Are the Helmet Law Requirements for Passengers and Minors?
In Florida, the helmet law carries certain criteria for passengers and minors who ride motorcycles. Passengers under 21 and minors must wear helmets unless they are riding in an enclosed cab. Children must wear protective gear while riding, which includes a helmet and eyewear.
What Are Some Other Requirements for Florida Motorcycle Riders?
There are other requirements for motorcycle riders in Florida. Operators must have a Class E operator’s driver’s license, complete the Basic Rider Course motorcycle safety course with an authorized sponsor and obtain an endorsement within one year of passing their Basic Rider Course. Motorcycle operators who are at least 16 years old can also have a learner’s license for at least one year without any traffic violations, pass the test for a Class E operator’s driver’s license and pass the Basic Rider Course with an authorized sponsor.
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Penalties for Operating a Motorcycle in Florida without a Helmet
If a person violates Florida’s helmet law while wearing a motorcycle, they can face certain penalties. For a first offense, that includes a fine of $30. Any additional violation of the helmet law results in $60 for each offense within 12 months. Some people may also be required to attend motorcycle safety courses as ordered by the court.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?
Florida is a no-fault state for motor vehicle accidents, so collisions involving motorcycles are no exception. If a person is involved in a motorcycle accident, they have to go through their own insurance coverage to pay for the expenses related to their injuries, property damage and other out-of-pocket expenses. However, motorcycle riders aren’t required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Instead, they must carry at least $20,000 in bodily injury coverage or $10,000 per person in bodily injury coverage.
If a motorcycle accident is caused by another party such as the driver of a larger vehicle, the motorcycle rider has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit directly against that person. Liability for a lawsuit applies when the rider suffers a serious permanent injury.
Is the Lack of Wearing a Helmet Considered Negligence?
Any motorcycle rider who chooses not to wear a helmet while riding and subsequently gets into an accident resulting in injuries can be considered negligent as a result. Florida follows the modified comparative negligence rule, which means that if someone is found to be up to 50% responsible for an accident, they can only recover compensation minus their percentage at fault. In other words, if a person fails to wear a helmet while riding their motorcycle and is partially responsible for the accident, they can only win a percentage of the original settlement amount they seek if their personal injury lawsuit is successful.
Understanding Florida’s Helmet Law and Car Accident Compensation
Because of Florida’s helmet law, a motorcycle rider does not have to be wearing a helmet at the time of an accident to recover car accident compensation. If the rider has insurance coverage greater than $10,000 to cover their injuries and has an accident caused by the driver of a car or other vehicle, they can hold that person liable. However, riders must rely on their own insurance policy first to cover the costs of their damages. If that isn’t enough to pay for their medical expenses and other damages, they can then file a lawsuit.
The state’s comparative negligence rule comes into play in a motorcycle accident case, as does whether the rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents
Florida’s comparative negligence rule applies in motorcycle accidents when an injured rider files a personal injury lawsuit and is found to be 50% or less at fault for an accident. Whatever percentage of fault the plaintiff is determined to be, if they recover compensation, their settlement is reduced by that percentage. For example, if a person sues someone else for $50,000 but the jury declares them to be 10% at fault for the accident that caused their injury, they would recover $45,000 in damages.
How Not Wearing a Helmet Affects Compensation
In some cases, a motorcycle rider is exempt from wearing a helmet. If such a rider has an accident that’s the fault of another driver, they can file a lawsuit against that person. However, if they should have been wearing a helmet because they were not exempt, they might not be able to recover the level of compensation they seek in their lawsuit.
What Are the Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in Florida and the United States?
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), Florida is the worst state for motorcycle accidents. Specifically, the state has more fatal motorcycle accidents per number of residents. In the period 2018 to 2020, the number of crashes was more than 8,000, with over 500 fatalities.
In the United States as a whole, motorcycle accidents made up 14% of all traffic-related deaths in 2021. The biggest factor in these fatalities was that riders failed to wear helmets. Also, between 2020 and 2021, there was an 8% uptick in motorcycle fatalities compared to previous years. However, over the past 10 years, motorcycle accident deaths increased by 10% throughout the U.S.
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Motorcycle Helmets and Lives Saved
In spite of Florida’s helmet law being lax, it’s always best for motorcycle riders to wear a helmet regardless of age or insurance status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets save more than 1,800 lives annually and can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries after a motorcycle accident.
What Are the Reasons to Always Wear a Helmet?
There are various reasons why it’s wise to always wear a helmet whenever riding a motorcycle. Helmets decrease the risk of death, decrease the risk of brain injuries and provide injured riders a greater likelihood of recovering compensation if they file a personal injury lawsuit.
How Motorcycle Helmets Decrease the Risk of Death
Wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle can better protect riders from being killed if they get into an accident. Properly fitted helmets are designed to absorb the impact of a collision so that a person can survive.
How Motorcycle Helmets Decrease the Risk of Brain Injury
Helmets protect motorcycle riders’ heads if they get into accidents. If a rider is thrown from their motorcycle and falls head-first onto the ground, the helmet stays firmly on and absorbs the impact, which can lower the risk of a brain injury.
Helmets Increase the Likelihood of Recovering Compensation
Even though Florida law doesn’t require every motorcycle rider to wear a helmet, wearing one can help if a rider suffers injuries after an accident and files a lawsuit. Wearing a helmet shows that the rider was cautious and serious about protecting themselves in the event of a motorcycle accident. This can open the door to recovering compensation or a greater amount in a settlement.
How Else Motorcycle Injuries Can Be Prevented
In addition to wearing a helmet, riders can prevent motorcycle injuries by taking other steps. They include wearing protective gear, using safe riding practices, obtaining continuous education and training, being visible, avoiding impaired riding, regularly maintaining their vehicle, riding within their limits, being mindful of road conditions and being prepared for emergencies.
Using Protective Gear
Motorcyclists should always use protective gear while riding to keep them safe in case an accident occurs. In addition to helmets, riders should wear durable boots, leather pants and jackets, motorcycle gloves and armor worn over or under their clothes to protect their limb joints and torso.
Understanding Safe Riding Practices
The only way to enjoy riding a motorcycle is to do so safely. This means avoiding any reckless behavior such as speeding, performing wheelies and weaving in and out of lanes. Use all proper hand signals and your turn signals. Avoid going too fast into a curve while turning to prevent an accident.
Why Continuous Education and Training Are Essential
Continuous education and training help you to stay sharp when it comes to riding your motorcycle. It gives you an edge in knowing how to properly ride, use defensive riding and know how to react in various situations. Being a smarter motorcyclist makes you a safer one.
Importance of Being Visible
Always ensure that drivers can see you and avoid their blindspots. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t see a driver in their mirror, they can’t see you. Visibility is also reduced after dark. Wearing bright colors and using your motorcycle’s lights at all times in the dark can help you stay seen, which keeps you safer.
Never Ride While Impaired
Avoiding alcohol and drugs when you plan to ride your motorcycle can reduce the risk of an accident. If you are taking certain prescription medications to treat an illness or condition, it’s best to avoid riding. Some of these drugs can cause drowsiness and compromise your ability to safely ride.
Why You Should Perform Regular Maintenance
Just like cars, motorcycles need regular maintenance to ensure that they are in good operating condition. It allows you to travel safely on the road and avoid a malfunction that could lead to a motorcycle accident.
Riding Within Your Limits
Always ride within your limits. If you’re fatigued, you should avoid riding your motorcycle until you are well-rested. The same goes for riding when you’re ill. Recover before getting back on your bike so you can be alert and focused.
Always Stay Mindful of Road Conditions
Remaining alert of road conditions helps you to be a better motorcycle rider and reduces the risk of accidents. If you notice a potential obstacle, debris or pothole in the road, slow down and maneuver as carefully as possible around it to avoid skidding out and having an accident.
Being Prepared for Emergencies
Being prepared for emergencies helps you avoid accidents and other disasters. Carrying an emergency kit can help. This should include trauma shears, saline eyewash, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer, face mask, paper towels, gauze, band-aids, burn gel, triage bandages and even a blanket.
Difference Between Certified and Non-Certified Helmets
A certified motorcycle helmet should always have the DOT symbol on the back as it means it meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218. Non-certified helmets pose risks because they do not meet the safety standards needed to keep riders safe in the event of a crash.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Ride a Motorcycle Without a Helmet in Florida?
You can ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Florida if you’re 21 or older and carry at least $10,000 in insurance coverage that can pay for your injuries in the event of an accident or if you can prove you can pay for injuries sustained in an accident.
What Is the New Helmet Law in Florida?
The new helmet law in Florida states that only riders under 21 must wear helmets unless they ride in an enclosed cab. Riders 21 and over who have at least $10,000 in insurance coverage can forego wearing a helmet if their policy can cover the costs of their injuries. Riders 21 and older who can prove they have at least $10,000 in insurance coverage can also avoid wearing a helmet.
When was the No Helmet Law Passed in Florida?
The no helmet law in Florida was passed in the summer of 2000.
What States Do Not Wear Helmets?
Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire are the only states that do not have helmet laws. However, in the case of riders in New Hampshire, if they cross over the border into Vermont, they are required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
Why Is There a No Helmet Law in Florida?
Florida has a no helmet law because the original law was deemed “unconstitutional” in December 1995.
Florida Motorcycle Eye Protection Law
In Florida, all motorcycle riders are required to wear protective eyewear. Riders of all ages must wear either goggles or face shields to protect their eyes.