Helmet Laws in Texas

Helmet Laws in Texas - Article Written by Stephens Law

In 1966, the U.S. government required states to pass motorcycle helmet laws to receive highway money from the federal budget. Texas, like 47 other states, passed a universal motorcycle helmet law.

Once the U.S. government lifted the budgetary penalties, states began relaxing their helmet laws. In 1997, Texas revised its motorcycle helmet law to only cover riders and passengers under the age of 21. This version of the law remains in force today in Fort Worth, TX.

Read on to learn about helmet laws in Texas and the legal effects of not wearing one. And if you’ve recently been involved in a motorcycle accident, our attorneys can help you obtain compensation from the responsible party. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to go over your case. Call Stephens Law at (817) 420-7000 today.

How Stephens Law Can Help After an Accident in Fort Worth

How Stephens Law Can Help After an Accident in Fort Worth

Stephens Law has over 25 years of experience as a difference-maker for accident victims in the Fort Worth, Texas, area.

During that time, we’ve:

  • Recovered over $100 million in injury compensation
  • Won the 47th largest verdict in the U.S. in 2004, according to the National Law Journal
  • Won the fifth largest verdict in Texas in 2004 and the eighth largest motor vehicle verdict in Texas in 2012, according to Texas Lawyer

When you hire our Fort Worth motorcycle accident lawyers to represent you, we will:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation into the extent and cause of your injury
  • Negotiate on your behalf with the other party to your case
  • File a lawsuit and take your case to trial if necessary
  • Hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf at trial
  • Ensure your interests are represented throughout your case

Contact the firm to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Worth motorcycle accident attorney to discuss how Stephens Law can help. Our attorneys are standing by to assist.

How Common Is Helmet Use in Texas?

After it amended its helmet law in 1997, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) studied its effects

The study found that 97% of motorcyclists used motorcycle helmets when Texas had a mandatory helmet law. Five months after Texas changed the law to only cover riders under 21, helmet use in Texas dropped to 66%.

In the first full year after enacting the new law, motorcyclist fatalities in Texas went up by 31%. Injury severity also changed. The number of possible and minor injuries increased while the number of serious injuries decreased. 

This means motorcyclists who would have sustained a serious injury with a helmet were instead getting killed without a helmet. It also means that motorcyclists who might have escaped any injury instead sustained possible and minor injuries after helmet laws changed.

To sum up, after Texas changed its law:

  • Helmet use declined
  • Fatal motorcycle accidents increased
  • Serious injuries became fatalities
  • Possible and minor injuries increased

Despite these grim statistics, Texas has chosen to leave its helmet law as it stands despite attempts to further refine it.

Overview of Helmet Laws in Texas

Since 1997, Texas’s helmet law has applied to all riders but provides exceptions that make the law unenforceable. 

What Is the Helmet Law in Texas?

Texas’s helmet law requires riders to wear a helmet. But it grants an exemption to riders who:

  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Took and passed a motorcycle training course or have health insurance to cover motorcycle injuries

The main problem in enforcement is police officers cannot tell from watching a motorcyclist whether the rider took a training course or has health insurance. Thus, the exceptions swallow the rule.

How Do Riders Violate the Helmet Law in Texas?

Texas’s law does not allow primary enforcement. Police officers may not stop a motorcyclist simply for riding without a helmet. Instead, police officers must stop the motorcyclist for another violation, like speeding or failing to yield, before determining whether the rider has violated the helmet law.

If a police officer cites you for violating the helmet law, you will pay a fine of between $10 and $50.

What Injuries Happen When You Ride Without a Helmet?

Advocates of Texas’s lax helmet laws point out that 55% of Texas’s motorcycle fatalities are helmeted riders, while only 45% of deceased motorcycle riders were unhelmeted. This makes it sound like helmet use is just as dangerous as riding without a helmet.

But more accidents happen involving helmeted riders because more than half of riders still wear helmets. If you compare the outcomes of unhelmeted and helmeted accidents, unhelmeted riders have a much higher risk of death and injury than helmeted riders.

In 2021, unhelmeted riders had a 12.8% chance of walking away from a motorcycle accident unharmed compared to a 14.5% for helmeted riders. Additionally, 53.5% of helmeted riders escaped with a possible or minor injury, while only 49% of unhelmeted riders only suffered a possible or minor injury.

The big difference appears in serious and fatal injuries: 25.1% of helmeted riders suffered incapacitating injuries, while 29.6% of unhelmeted riders were incapacitated. And 5.5% of helmeted riders died compared to 7.1% of unhelmeted riders.

Does Not Wearing a Helmet Affect My Liability?

Texas’s contributory negligence statute allows a jury or claims adjuster to shift part of the blame for your injuries to you if you ride without a helmet. Even if someone else caused the accident, you might bear a share of the blame for your injuries because you failed to wear a helmet. If that’s the case, your compensation could be reduced if not outright nullified.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Fort Worth Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

You can get injured in a motorcycle accident even if you wear a helmet. According to Texas statistics, even helmeted riders get injured over 85% of the time. When that happens, you need an experienced Fort Worth motorcycle accident lawyer on your side. Contact Stephens Law for a free consultation to discuss your motorcycle accident and the injury compensation you can seek.