Understanding Ohio Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Doug Mann

Few feelings match the thrill of cruising down the road on your bike – it feels a little like flying. Of course, that feeling comes at a price. Everyone who rides also has a healthy respect for the fact that the road is a dangerous place and a motorcycle offers little protection in case of a crash. So, we do what we can to protect ourselves by riding safely and wearing appropriate protective gear – especially helmets. You may know that some states require riders by law to wear helmets, but what are the motorcycle helmet laws in Ohio?

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Table of Contents
  1. Motorcycle Helmet Laws
  2. Penalties For Breaking The Law
  3. How Effective Are Motorcycle Helmets?
  4. Motorcycle Safety Tips
  5. Call A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Motorcycle Helmet Laws

In the US, 19 states and the District of Columbia require that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a helmet. Ohio is not one of those states. However, Ohio’s motorcycle helmet laws require that all riders under the age of 18 wear a helmet. In addition, riders must wear a helmet as long as they have a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC). A TIPIC is a “novice” license, the first step toward earning a full motorcycle license. If the driver is required to wear a helmet, then the passenger is also required to do so. The helmet must be approved by the DOT; that will be listed on the helmet’s packaging when you purchase it.

If you’re over 18 and have earned your full license or are licensed in another state, you’re not legally obligated to wear protective headgear.

Some states have different rules for low-power cycles (bikes, mopeds, and scooters with engine displacement less than 50 cc and top speeds lower than 30 mph), but Ohio has the same helmet requirements for low-power bikes as full-power ones. However, the rules are different for off-road riding – no helmets are required regardless of age or license status.

Other Motorcycle Laws

Ohio also regulates other aspects of motorcycle ownership and driving. Regardless of age and experience level, you are required to wear eye protection unless your bike has a windscreen. You must have a passenger seat and passenger footrest in order to carry a passenger and you must have mirrors and turn signals. You’re legally required to have a muffler with no cut-outs and certain towns may restrict the level of noise your bike can make.

Penalties For Breaking The Law

If you’re caught without a helmet in Ohio, you may face a fine of up to $75. In some states, failure to wear a helmet can affect your ability to collect compensation if you’re injured in a crash. Ohio, however, specifically provides for that situation. Whether or not you’re wearing a helmet cannot be taken into account when the court decides the compensation you receive as the result of a motorcycle accident. In other words, you won’t get stuck without compensation just because you weren’t wearing a helmet.

How Effective Are Motorcycle Helmets?

The protection of a helmet is crucial for motorcyclists. They experience 26 times as many crashes per mile as car drivers, but they don’t have the protection of a vehicle around them. That means they’re more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the event of an accident.

Brain damage is one of the scariest and most serious potential outcomes of a motorcycle crash. A helmet is designed to help cushion your skull to keep your brain from impacting and being injured. Helmets aren’t perfect, but they can make a big difference. They’re about 67% effective in preventing head injuries in motorcycle crashes and about 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A TBI can cause serious long-term problems, including cognitive deficits. A TBI can cause impact your ability to think, reason, communicate, and manage your emotions. Severe TBIs can even take away your ability to live independently. Even a minor TBI is dangerous and increases your risk for Alzheimer’s and other long-term brain disorders. A TBI is also a very expensive injury – treatment for people injured in motorcycle crashes is 32 times more expensive if they suffer a TBI.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Motorcycles are more dangerous than cars, but there are ways to make riding safer. The top motorcycle safety tips include:

  • Wear a helmet. It can make the difference between walking away from a crash and suffering serious, lasting injuries.
  • Wear protective clothing. Crashes can cause serious scrapes and proper protective clothing can protect you from road rash and help pad your fall.
  • Take a motorcycle safety course. Ohio offers an official course to teach you the best practices for motorcycle safety. It’s mandatory for riders under the age of 18, but even experienced riders can benefit from a refresher on everything from the basics to advanced emergency maneuvers.
  • Take care of your bike. When you’re buying a bike, make sure you get one that you can handle at your size and skill level. Make sure you keep it in good repair and check the tires, brakes, lights, horn, and turn signals every time you hit the road.

Call A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Unfortunately, accidents can happen even with all the right safety precautions. Cars often aren’t watching out for bikes, meaning they may hit bikers or drive them off the road. Bikes are also inherently less stable, especially if the weather or road conditions are less than ideal. If you’re involved in a bike crash, what can you do?

The first step is to call for emergency medical attention if you need it. Then you’ll need to get the other driver’s personal and insurance information. Then, contact one of our experienced Ohio motorcycle accident attorneys for a free case evaluation and consultation on how to manage your claim. We can help you manage the insurance paperwork and fight for the compensation you deserve.

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