With more than 188,000 registered motorcycles in the state as of 2017, bikers have good reason to wonder about the requirements for helmet use in Arizona. Given the serious danger of head injuries among bikers, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have already passed laws requiring all bikers to wear a helmet while on the road.
Under the Arizona motorcycle helmet law, bikers under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet at all times while operating or riding the motorcycle. So, under the current law, drivers 18 and over are not required to wear a helmet. However, all bikers are required to wear eye protection.
Should Arizona Change the Helmet Law?
Many residents of our state are concerned about the safety of riders who do not wear helmets. The risks may be obvious, but some riders prefer the freedom of being on their motorcycle without a helmet. There are accident risks regardless of vehicle type when we drive on Arizona roads, but federal data illustrates how helmets can reduce fatalities in motorcycle accidents. Nationwide, in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that 802 lives could have been saved if motorcyclists who failed to wear helmets had done so. In their statistical analysis, the NHTSA determined that wearing helmets reduce the chance of death by 38% for drivers and 41% for passengers.
Does this data mean that Arizona should change the helmet law to require drivers over 18 to wear helmets? This policy decision will have to wait for the future. So far, bills introduced to require riders to wear helmets in Arizona have failed. The most recent example was House Bill 2046, which failed in January of 2017. A strong presence of riders who demand they have freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet may have influenced that outcome.
Head Injuries and the Arizona Motorcycle Helmet Law
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are some of the most common injuries that can happen to bikers. These injuries occur when an object hits the head with great force. When this happens, the brain is violently shaken, the skull may be fractured, and the brain itself may be punctured by an object.
These brain injuries, as you would expect, are most common among bikers who are not wearing helmets. According to the the NHTSA, 6.6 percent of motorcyclists not wearing helmets who are injured in accidents sustain moderate to severe facial or head injuries.
TBIs can have serious long-term effects on a motorcyclist’s cognitive and physical abilities. Under the current Arizona motorcycle helmet law, however, motorcyclists over the age of 18 are not required to wear a helmet.
Helmet Laws in Arizona
To repeat: The current Arizona helmet law requires only motorcyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Bikers over the age of 18 must wear some form of eye protection while operating a bike, but not a helmet.
Helmets can seriously reduce the risk of drastic harm in the event of a motorcycle accident. Motorcyclists who are injured in accidents are far more likely to sustain serious injury or death if they are not wearing helmets. But the state of Arizona recognizes the right of adult citizens to make the choice of whether or not to wear a protective helmet. Adults who choose to operate motorcycles without wearing helmets in the state of Arizona are well within their rights to do so.
Have You Been Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
While motorcycle accidents can be caused by error of the motorcycle driver, there are times when negligence of another vehicle driver leads to an accident. When serious injury or death is caused by another, it is important to seek legal help to get the justice you and your loved ones deserve. Our motorcycle attorneys at the Khalidi Law Firm have decades of experience helping clients move on with their lives.