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California Helmet Laws

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You may understand the importance of wearing a helmet, but not the exact laws in California regarding them. Jumping on an electric scooter or bicycle, for example, may involve different helmet laws than a motorcycle. Knowing when the law requires the use of helmets for riders and passengers can help keep you out of legal trouble. Safety organizations recommend always wearing a helmet, even if the law does not require doing so, to protect from serious head injuries.

Why Wear a Helmet?

Helmets are extremely important safety devices on motorcycles, bicycles, mopeds, electric scooters and motorized bicycles. Wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of serious head injuries by almost 70% and fatal injuries by 37%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Helmets can prevent deaths in motorcycle and bicycle collisions in California. In 2016, if every motorcyclist in the U.S. had worn a helmet, an estimated 1,860 people would not have lost their lives. Even in states where laws do not require riders to wear helmets, doing so could save lives.

Motorcycle and Bicycle Helmet Laws

According to California Vehicle Code 21212, anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or roller skates. This rule also applies to underage passengers. The helmet must meet the federal safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission or American Society for Testing and Materials. It should fit the wearer snugly.

Regardless of age, every rider and passenger on a motorcycle must wear a helmet in the state of California. Riding a motorcycle or bicycle without following the state’s helmet laws could result in a traffic citation. This infraction typically comes with a fine of $25 for a first offense. The fine could increase with subsequent offenses. It does not matter if you come from another state; once you cross into California, you must obey the state’s motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws. Getting into a bicycle or motorcycle crash without a helmet could lead to life-threatening head or brain injuries.

What About Motorized Bicycles?

A motorized bicycle is a unique vehicle class. It is not a typical bicycle, but it uses similar laws. If you operate an electric or motorized bicycle, the need to wear a helmet depends on the class of the vehicle. You will only need to wear a helmet on a Class 1 or Class 2 electric/motorized bicycle if you are under the age of 18. If you operate a Class 3 bicycle (one that can achieve speeds of 28 miles per hour), however, you must use a helmet regardless of your age.

Do You Need To Wear a Helmet on an E-Scooter?

On a regular scooter, only riders under 18 must wear helmets. For a time, California law required the use of helmets for riders of all ages on electric scooters. These laws, however, recently changed. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that went into effect on January 1st, 2019. This bill removed the helmet requirement for e-scooter users 18 and older. Now, adults can rent electric scooters and ride them around the state without wearing helmets or worrying about tickets. Failure to wear a helmet on a Bird, Lime, Spin or another e-scooter will not result in a traffic infraction unless the rider is under the age of 18. Most rentable e-scooter companies do not allow riders under the age of 18, anyway.

Moped Helmet Laws

A moped is separate from a motorcycle or scooter in California. It is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle that may or may not have pedals. Mopeds do not exceed 30 miles per hour. An operator needs a driver or motorcycle license to use a moped in California. Riders must also register their mopeds and attach license plates. Drivers and their passengers – regardless of age – must wear helmets on mopeds when riding on public roads. No matter what the laws say in your state, wearing a helmet could help you prevent a serious personal injury. If you sustained a personal injury due to the negligence of another, our Orange County injury lawyers can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.