Posted in Blog on January 9, 2020
Motorcycle helmet laws vary from state to state. Georgia’s motorcycle helmet law is generally one of the strictest. The Georgia motorcycle helmet law went into effect in 1969 and has not changed since. Georgia is one of 19 states that requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets at all times.
Section 40-6-315 of the Georgia statute says specifically that:
“(a) No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety…”
The law is fairly transparent and leaves little room for ambiguity. While many other states only require riders to wear a helmet if they are under 21 years of age, anyone in Georgia who rides a motorcycle must have a helmet on.
Riders in Georgia must also wear a helmet that follows particular standards. According to the Georgia Commissioner of Public Safety, the Georgia Department of Public Safety Rule 570-13 states that all helmets worn by motorcyclists in this state must meet the standards set forth in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
This means that all helmets must be DOT-approved. All DOT-approved helmets will have a DOT sticker on them as well as the manufacturer’s labels. The DOT sticker is the easiest way to know that your helmet meets the requirements of FMVSS 218. Generally, these helmets will have the following:
DOT-approved helmets will have a one-inch polystyrene foam layer. Helmets lacking this foam will not be as thick or may contain a softer foam. Some helmets have it only a plastic shell with no padding at all, making them illegal for motorcycle use in Georgia.
Most DOT-approved helmets will weigh approximately three pounds.
A DOT-approved Motorcycle helmet will have a sturdy chin strap. These straps must be directly riveted to the helmet so they do not easily break in an accident.
Nothing can stick out more than two-tenths of an inch from a DOT-approved helmet.
Motorcycle accidents are often devastating for riders. Motorcyclists are considered vulnerable roadway users and are much more likely to be seriously injured or killed in an accident. During the latest reporting year in Georgia, there were 154 total motorcyclist fatalities. Out of those fatalities, many were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that motorcyclists are five times more likely to be injured in accidents than those inside traditional passenger vehicles. In states lacking a universal helmet law, the NHTSA says that motorcyclists are much more likely to be killed than in states like Georgia, where all riders are required. According to the NHTSA, helmet use reduces motorcycle fatalities by as much as 22% to 37% and brain injuries by 44% to 65%.
Motorcycle riders in Georgia who fail to wear a helmet could face harsh penalties. Riding without a helmet is considered a misdemeanor offense and a violation could cost a rider up to $1,000. A rider could also face up to one year in jail. While riders do not often face jail time, they could be assigned extensive community service.
If you’ve been injured on the road, call the Atlanta motorcycle accident attorneys at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP today.