Originally published May 31, 2021.
There’s nothing quite like riding down the road on your motorcycle, enjoying the breeze. Unfortunately, riding motorcycles can be dangerous, in large part because of accidents caused by other road users, dangerous and unexpected road hazards, and frequently changeable weather. While you should enjoy yourself, you also need to consider your safety every time you head out on your bike.
Although you may want to enjoy the fresh air without being cooped up in a helmet, here in Louisiana, it is illegal to do so. In an accident, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer severe injuries and death than a driver of a car, especially when not wearing a helmet.
Knowing your rights and the laws in place to protect you as a motorcyclist can help make your ride safer and more enjoyable.
What is the Motorcycle Helmet Law in Louisiana?
A universal helmet law was adopted by Louisiana in 2004.
The law requires you to wear an approved motorcycle helmet at all times and on all types of roadways while on a motorcycle. This requirement is for both motorcyclists and their passengers. Whether your passenger rides behind you or beside you in a sidecar, a helmet is mandatory.
Furthermore, the helmet must be specifically designed for use on a motorcycle: this means bicycle and skateboard helmets, for example, won’t cut it.
According to the law, an approved motorcycle helmet must have:
- Interior lining and padding
- Working chin strap
The chin strap has to be secured for both operators and passengers while riding. All helmets must adhere to detailed specifications outlined by the Department of Public Safety and the commissioner, also known as the Corrections’ Deputy Secretary.
This law is standard across all age groups, motorcycle types, and insurance policies, so the key is to wear one that fits well and comfortably and doesn’t hinder your sight and hearing. If you have more questions or find yourself in an accident, contacting the Louisiana motorcycle accident attorneys at Dudley DeBosier will provide the fastest and most reliable legal advice and representation.
Exceptions to the Helmet Law
Louisiana does provide a few exceptions from the helmet law. These are highly specific, so be sure you are meeting the requirements exactly.
- If riding in a parade or other such public event or exhibition, you can obtain an exemption permit from the local (city, town, village, or parish) police department. This permit to abstain from wearing a helmet is only good during the event. You’ll still need to bring your helmet to ride home afterward.
- If your motorcycle type contains certain supportive features that provide safety matching or greater than that provided by a helmet, roll cage, or roll bar. An example of this might be an autocycle equipped with such supports.
Additional Eye Protection Requirements
In addition to requiring motorcycle helmets, Louisiana also requires protective eyewear for all motorcyclists, unless you have a high windshield in place. If your bike doesn’t have a tall enough windshield, you must wear protective eyewear such as goggles, safety glasses, or face shields. For example, if you have an open face helmet, you must combine it with safety glasses or goggles.
As with the helmets, the protective eyewear must conform to the specifications provided by the same commissioner. During the daytime, this eye protection can be tinted to protect against the glare of the sun. However, at nighttime, tinted eyewear is not allowed since it reduces vision.
Why Are Motorcycle Helmets So Important?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a helmet prevents brain damage up to 67% of the time in motorcycle crashes.
Brain damage can have lasting effects, which could cause you lifelong problems, including ones that affect your quality of life or ability to do the same work you did before your accident.
Head injuries, especially in high-speed crashes, can also often be fatal. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of death by 37%.
Are There Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet in Louisiana?
If you are pulled over for not wearing a helmet, it could land you a $50 fine. This can easily add up—but $50 is still nothing compared to the hundreds or thousands of dollars you will likely end up paying in medical expenses if you get into a crash while not wearing one!
How to Test the Fit of a Motorcycle Helmet
There are two main components to determining the right-sized motorcycle helmet for you: shape and size.
This refers to the shape of your head, not the shape of your face. Having a friend view the top of your head from above can help determine what shape you need. There are three shapes to consider:
- Long oval: a head that is wider from front to back than it is side to side
- Intermediate oval: a head that is only slightly wider from front to back than it is side to side
- Round oval: a head that is the same width from front to back as it is side to side
Use a cloth measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head just above the eyebrows and ears. Take the measurement at the forehead. It may be helpful to have a friend help you measure.
Use this measurement when referencing a size chart for the brand of helmet you wish to purchase.
The interior of a correctly sized helmet should make contact with the majority of your head without putting pressure on any spots. It should be just tight enough to not move side to side when jostled.
Stay Safe on the Road
By knowing that protective eyewear and motorcycle helmets are required in Louisiana, you can ride with confidence. Louisiana law also addresses other motorcycle safety concerns, like requiring footrests if you have passengers, so review the law or ask an experienced motorcycle attorney about it to ensure you’re riding legally before heading out.
While it may be fun to cross state lines and go without a helmet in Florida or other non-helmet law states, it puts you in danger, and you’ll still need to take your helmet with you if you plan to ride back into Louisiana.
Contact the Top Louisiana Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
Louisiana cares about the motorcycle riders in the state and has requirements in place for your protection. Unfortunately, accidents and severe injuries still happen. If one happens to you, contact Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers today to find out your options.
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