Texas’ Motorcycle Helmet Law

Texas passed its Motorcycle Helmet Law in 2009, which changed how the law treated those choosing to ride without a helmet. The law requires everyone to wear a helmet, but an exception does exist. Learn what the law specifically requires of you, how it differs from the old law, and what restrictions still exist for those wishing to ride without a helmet. For additional information, speak with a seasoned Austin truck accident lawyer.

The Former Law

The state’s previous law required each rider to wear a helmet meeting Federal safety standards while riding a motorcycle. However, anyone wishing to be exempted from this rule could attend a safety course or obtain health insurance covering accident injuries up to $10,000. Previous legislation also mandated riders to display a Department of Public Safety (DPS) sticker on their motorcycle, which offered proof of the exemption.

What Changed

The new law still requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, but now the healthcare covered for those wishing to be exempted has changed. It removed the minimum coverage amount and placed a requirement on Texas’s Department of Insurance to set standard health insurance requirements for anyone 21 years or older who is insured by any applicable health plan. The law places the onus on the providers to insert appropriate language – in this case “MOTORCYCLE HEALTH” – in the insurance card’s text.

Additionally, the new law restricts police officers from halting or arresting persons just to find out if the person completed the necessary motorcycle operation training, safety course, or has the right insurance coverage. The law also repealed the helmet exemption sticker program.

Be Smart

Although state law exempts certain riders from wearing helmets, doing so places you in more danger. Motorcycles offer less protection than cars, so you would be safer wearing a helmet and other protective gear. These protective measures reduce the risk of brain injury or death in a crash, and they may reduce the odds of neck or spinal cord injury. You may feel freer while riding helmetless, but it’s a small price to pay if there’s an accident on a Texas highway.

In any case, be sure to operate your motorcycle safely, with all lights functional. Practice defensive driving, including increased awareness of potential lane-changing drivers or cars that might turn left across your lane of travel. Maintain safe speeds and trailing distances, and be sure to take a safety course. It’s a good idea to attend the course occasionally to see if anything new has changed, including laws.

Pick the Right Helmet

Your helmet should meet Federal safety requirements. This includes having a thick inner liner, firm chin straps with strong rivets, a minimum weight of three pounds, and Department of Transportation certification. Helmet companies display a label with the proper certifications or any additional verifications on the helmet.

Texas law protects motorcycle riders from unlawful police search and seizures, but it doesn’t change the fact that motorcycle operators face increased risks on the roads. Be safe and wear the appropriate safety gear, including a certified helmet. Learn more on helmet safety at the National Highway Traffic Safety website.