Motorcycle riders face a greater risk of injury and death when they are involved in an accident. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can significantly reduce the severity of injuries in the event of an accident. This is why Federal and Tennessee State laws and regulations require the use of motorcycle helmets and penalize riders who do not comply. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, your adherence to Tennessee's motorcycle helmet laws could be an important issue in getting the compensation you deserve. If you suffered injuries related to a motorcycle accident or face penalties for violating the state's helmet laws, consider visiting with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Labrum Law at 615-338-9500, to ensure that you understand all of your legal options.
Who Is Required to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Tennessee?
Every person driving a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, or motor-driven cycle is required by Tennessee state law to wear a helmet that meets federal standards. Passengers are also required to wear helmets. The requirements differ only slightly between riders who are below the age of 21, and those who are aged 21 or older.
Who is Excluded from Tennessee's Motorcycle Helmet Law?
People are not required to comply with the motorcycle helmet law in the state of Tennessee in these situations:
- When riding in an enclosed cab.
- When riding autocycles that are fully enclosed. An autocycle is a three-wheeled motorcycle that is equipped with safety belts, a steering wheel, and non-straddle seating, and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles.
- When riding golf carts.
- A person who is 18 years of age or older riding in a parade moving at a speed that does not exceed 30 miles per hour.
- When riding in a funeral procession, memorial ride under police escort, or body escort detail where the driver does not exceed a speed of 30 miles per hour; is 21 years old or older; and the funeral procession, memorial ride, or body escort detail does not exceed a distance of 50 miles.
What to Look for When Buying a Motorcycle Helmet
Federal regulations provide very strict standards that manufacturers of motorcycle helmets must adhere to. Every detail of a motorcycle helmet from its size and shape, to its labeling and the placement of the labels, must meet these standards.
Motorcycle Helmet Labeling Standards
Every helmet must have a label on its outer surface with the symbol DOT, the term FMVSS No. 218, the word Certified, the model of the helmet, and the manufacturer's name and/or brand.
No other information is permitted on helmet labels. And, all symbols, letters and numerals should be in a color that contrasts with the background of the label so that they are clear and easy to read.
Motorcycle Helmet Performance Standards
In addition to the label on the outer surface, every helmet must have a permanent and legible label that shows the manufacturer's certification that the helmet conforms to federal safety standards. Tennessee specifically requires that the label on the helmet shows that it is compliant with any of the following testing bodies:
- the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM);
- the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC);
- the Southern Impact Research Center (SIRC); or
- the Snell Foundation.
Manufacturers are obligated to test their helmets to make sure that federal safety standards for helmets are adhered to. The standards cover:
- The ability of the helmet to absorb shock and cushion the wearer's head at different speeds of impact;
- The mechanism that secures the helmet to the wearer's head when it is in use;
- The shape of the helmet;
- Any designs that could obstruct the peripheral vision of the wearer; and
- Projections on the outside of the helmet.
These standards may seem detailed and cumbersome to comply with, but they are for the protection of motorcycle riders. Their primary purpose is for the safety of helmet wearers while they are riding. Helmet protection can reduce the incidence of disability or death that may result in the unfortunate event of an accident.
A manufacturer that fails to meet these safety standards can be held legally responsible for any injuries or death resulting from the failure of protection from their helmets.
What Are the Penalties for Failing to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Failure to comply with Tennessee state helmet laws is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by imprisonment of up to 30 days or a fine of up to $50, or both.
Parents or guardians of minors who knowingly permit them to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle without a helmet as provided by the law are in violation of the law. They can also be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
More importantly, if you are riding without a helmet and you are injured in an accident, you may not be able to recover full compensation for your injuries. Tennessee is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that injured persons who are found to be more than 50% responsible for an accident and their injuries cannot get any compensation at all. If you are less than 50% responsible, then your compensation is only reduced by the percentage attributed to you. Never let the fact that you did not wear a helmet during an accident prevent you from contacting the experienced personal injury attorneys at Labrum Law to learn more about you how may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
You may be facing imprisonment, fines, or even the loss of your motorcycle license if you are found to be in violation of the helmet laws. Whether you or your child are facing penalties for a violation of the motorcycle helmet laws, or have been injured in a motorcycle accident, we can help you. Contact the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Labrum Law today. For a complimentary consultation of your case, contact us at 615-338-9500 or visit us online today.