Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Florida? Some states allow motorcycle operators to forego wearing a helmet.
Florida law states that motorcycle drivers and riders need to wear protective headgear properly. However, people over 21 years of age may ride or operate motor vehicles if they have the right insurance policy.
Although Florida is one of the states that have exceptions to their helmet requirement, wearing one is still a good idea. Here’s a closer look at Florida motorcycle helmet laws and how they can benefit you.
What Is Florida’s Motorcycle Helmet Law?
Florida is quite lenient when it comes to helmet use for both drivers and passengers. Generally, anyone under 21 must wear protective headgear when driving on the open road.
If you are over that age, you do not need to wear a helmet.
If you decide not to wear a full helmet when riding a motorcycle, you must still wear eye protection. Wearing proper eye gear will help prevent potential vision hazards when driving, such as bugs and weather hazards.
Florida law also states that moped riders under 16 years of age also need to wear helmets.
Moreover, regardless of age, those with a novice license must wear a helmet. These helmets must comply with federal standards for protective headgear.
What Kind of Helmets Must Motorcycle Riders Wear in Florida?
Florida helmet law highlights helmet standards under the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In particular, your helmet must comply with the Federal Motorcycle Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
You can tell if your protective headgear is DOT- and NHTSA-Approved with the following determining factors:
- Contains Stickers From Approved Institutions: See if your helmet has a sticker or label from the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Foundation. Helmets that have certification from these institutions are likely to comply with DOT standards.
- Has Visible Manufacturer Labels: According to federal law, motorcycle helmet manufacturers must include their labels on the helmets. These labels include essential details about the helmet, including the manufacturer’s name, when they made it, and construction materials. Other information it may have is the helmet model, size, and owner contact details.
- Features a Clean Design and Style: Many DOT-approved helmets are free of distracting decorations and features that protrude from the main helmet’s surface. Anything that sticks out from more than two-tenths of an inch from a helmet is a sign of danger. Other unsafe designs include skull cap-style helmets and smaller, thinner headgear.
- Contains Thick Inner Liners: Motorcycle laws are in place to help prevent head injuries, among other things. As such, DOT-compliant helmets must feature liners that effectively protect the user’s head. See if your protective headgear has an inner liner with at least an inch of thickness and fits snugly.
- Has a Face Shield: DOT-approved motorcycle helmets usually have protectors that cover the whole face. However, some helmets without a full-face shield still meet DOT standards. These face protectors must also be durable and resistant to scratches.
- Weighs at Least Three Pounds: Many motorcycle helmets with DOT approval are heavy because of the parts that ensure a snug yet comfortable fit. Try weighing your helmet if you cannot confirm these other factors right away. If it is too light, it likely is not enough to protect you against traumatic brain injury.
These apply to helmets for operators and passengers of motor vehicles. Vehicles include motorcycles, motor scooters, and certain mopeds. Covered mopeds include those that travel over 30 miles per hour on level ground and produce over two-brake horsepower.
What Are the Exceptions to Florida’s Helmet Law?
Motorcycle operators and riders do not need to wear a compliant helmet if they are in an enclosed cab. The law also exempts 16-year-old operators or riders of vehicles that do not meet the required horsepower and engine.
Finally, operators and riders over 21 years of age can opt out of wearing a helmet.
However, you must carry medical benefits that cover at least $10,000 to skip wearing a helmet. You must wear a helmet if you have no medical coverage. This Florida statute is in place to ensure you have enough to pay for property damage or medical bills.
Motorcycle accident cases are common and expensive. Florida had 366,076 motorcycle crashes between January 1, 2022, and December 15, 2022. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that motorcycle crashes cost around $16 billion in 2010.
Why Should You Wear a Helmet Even if Florida Law Exempts You?
Wearing a motorcycle helmet in Florida is beneficial for your health and legal rights. On top of protecting you from brain injuries, you have better grounds for your personal injury claim. If you survive a motorcycle accident, you need all the evidence you need.
Insurance companies and at-fault drivers tend to fight to give you less compensation than you deserve. Accordingly, a personal injury lawyer from the law firm of your choice must fight for your rights.
Why Are Universal Helmet Laws Important?
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics suggest helmets are beneficial. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can effectively eliminate the risk of death by about 37%. It’s also approximately 67% effective in stopping brain injuries.
Meanwhile, the CDC estimated about 1,872 motorcyclists survived accidents in 2017 because they wore helmets. If 749 more people had worn motorcycle helmets, all motorcyclists of that year could have survived their accidents.
Conclusion: Does Florida Have a Mandatory Helmet Law?
No. Florida law states that motorcycle operators and passengers must wear DOT-approved helmets when riding on state roads.
However, riders over 21 years old that have medical coverage of at least $10,000 can opt out of wearing helmets.
Regardless of the exemption, wearing a helmet remains beneficial to a person’s safety and legal rights.
Consider the legal advantages and safety benefits of wearing a helmet when riding on the open roads of Florida.