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Do I Have to Wear a Helmet on a Motorcycle in Pennsylvania?

Posted on August 15, 2022

Motorcyclists are more prone to severe injuries in a crash, which is why helmets are highly recommended. However, many may wonder whether they must wear one when riding in Pennsylvania.

Am I Required to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, motorcyclists are required to wear helmets on public roadways if they are under the age of 21 (75 Pa. C.S.A. Section 3525). If you are 21 or older, you do not have to wear a helmet as long as you have had your license for more than two years or have completed a motorcycle safety course. Additionally, any person riding on a motorcycle must wear protective eyewear, and the department of motor vehicles (DMV) highly recommends it be shatter-proof. The only exceptions to Pennsylvania’s helmet law are for three-wheeled motorcycles or those with enclosed cabs.

Are Motorcycle Passengers Required to Wear Motorcycle Helmets in Pennsylvania?

There is no minimum age requirement for passengers of motorcycles in Pennsylvania, but they are required to wear a helmet if under the age of 21. However, if a motorcycle rider is required to wear a helmet, the passenger must also, regardless of age. Passengers also have to wear eye protection.

What Penalties Exist for Not Wearing a Helmet?

Motorcyclists and passengers who do not wear a helmet but are required to can be pulled over by a police officer and ticketed. The fine is $25, but with court costs and added fees, you will have to pay $92.00. When it comes to motorcycle accidents, if you are legally required to wear a helmet and choose not to, it can be extremely difficult to recover compensation. The reason is that Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule.

Under this rule, your compensation can be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing a collision. Therefore, the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely allege that your injuries were preventable and your own negligent actions (not wearing a helmet) were the cause. If they can prove you are 50% or more at fault for the accident and your injuries, you will be barred from recovering any compensation. Keep in mind that even if you are not legally required to wear a helmet, an at-fault party’s insurer may still try to shift the blame for your injuries onto you.

Helmet Requirements

Motorcycle helmets must meet the following safety standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation:

  • It must weigh at least three pounds. Unsafe helmets typically weigh only one pound or less.
  • An inner liner that has a layer of firm polystyrene foam that is at least one inch thick. This may not be visible, but its thickness can still be felt.
  • Sturdy chin straps with rivets.
  • Any external components or decorations do not extend further than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface.
  • The helmet has a manufacturer’s label with the name, model, size, month and year it was manufactured, and the type of materials used.

Lastly, look for a “DOT” sticker on the back of the helmet, which certifies compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards. Be aware that counterfeit DOT stickers are sometimes placed on non-compliant helmets, which is why it is important to know all the other standards that distinguish whether a helmet is safe.