Helmets save lives; in this fact, there is little room for debate. However, according to Tallahassee’s WCTV.tv, one in seven motorcycle riders do not wear a helmet and account for 19% of fatal accidents. This figure is staggering, considering that motorcycle riders account for only 7% of all motorists in Florida.
Beyond motorcycles, however, helmets still make a tremendous difference in personal safety. A Center for Disease Control report found that over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency room visits due to bike-related injuries in one year alone.
Though the dangers above should be enough to influence cyclists and motorcycle riders to forego perfect hair for skull and brain protection, there are also laws in place to further hammer home the point.
Florida’s Helmet Laws
The laws of physics often work against those in an accident. A sudden stop after traveling at high speeds leaves a body wanting to continue travel, which can lead to serious-to-fatal injuries. In a car or truck, the human body is protected by a combination of seat belts, airbags and the frame of the vehicle itself. A seat belt prevents a driver from being ejected from the vehicle, the frame absorbs some of the impact and the airbags provide protection from head trauma.
Even with all of these protective assets, people are still injured and killed in car accidents every day.
Realize that motorcycle riders and bicyclists are not provided any of the above safety features. It becomes obvious why helmets would be enforced by law, yet many do not know the details on Florida’s helmet laws.
Though one may expect, given the data and common sense, that helmets would be mandatory by law. However, as Florida’s helmet laws stand, motorcycle riders over the age of 21 may ride without a helmet as long as the rider has insurance covering at least $10,000 in medical benefits.
Teens 16 or older operating or riding a 50cc motorcycle, one rated at two brake horsepower or less, or one incapable of exceeding 30 miles per hour on level ground are also exempt from the helmet mandate. The same general rules apply for moped operation, dictating that persons under 16 cannot do so without a helmet that complies with Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
If caught disobeying Florida’s helmet laws, operators and riders may face a noncriminal traffic infraction, possibly leading to a hefty ticket.
Like motorcycles, bicycles provide little to no protection against something like a speeding motor vehicle. Also, taking into consideration risks such as potholes, road obstructions, pedestrians and dangerous weather changes, wearing a helmet while riding a bike simply makes sense.
In the eyes of the law, again, Florida’s helmet laws are very similar to their motorcycle counterparts’. Riders and passengers under 16 years of age are required to wear a fitted and fastened helmet that meets federal safety standards.
If caught, cyclists can face anything from a verbal warning to a citation, which is often dismissed with proof of helmet purchase.
Though Florida’s helmet laws are not what many would consider stringent, riders and operators owe it to themselves and their loved ones to take this simple step toward safety. Added to a strict following of traffic laws and safe driving/riding techniques, lives can be saved every day on the roadways across the Sunshine State.
Unfortunately, not everyone follows high safety standards while on the road. If you are injured due to the negligence of another motorist, please do not hesitate to contact our team of motorcycle accident and personal injury lawyers immediately. We can help ensure you receive the compensation you are owed.