Helmet Law by States: Which States Can You Ride A Motorcycle Without A Helmet

Riding a motorcycle is exciting, providing a unique sense of freedom. However, safety is crucial, and helmet laws stir debates. Understanding the importance of motorcycle safety and the impact of helmet laws is key for rider well-being and responsible biking.

You might already know, motorcycle helmet laws are different depending on the states in the United States. You might be wondering, which states can you ride a motorcycle without a helmet and which states have universal helmet laws. In this post, we are going to tell you just that.

Also, wearing a helmet is recommended all the time and anywhere. Remember, Safety First!

States with No Helmet Laws

Motorcycle helmet laws in the United States vary by state. Some states have strict rules requiring all riders to wear helmets, while others, like Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire, don’t have any mandatory helmet laws. In these states, riders can choose whether or not to wear a helmet, usually based on their age and insurance coverage. 

States where you can ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet-

  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire
which states can you ride a motorcycle without a helmet

Other than these states, 47 states have laws for wearing helmets. Among them, 18 states including New York and California have universal helmet laws that require riders to use a helmet. However, 29 states allow to ride without a helmet after a certain age. Also, it’s important to note that, laws can change over time, so visit the official website to confirm.

Even though these states don’t make helmets a legal requirement, it’s strongly advised for riders to wear them for their own safety. Motorcycle Helmets play a crucial role in lowering the chances of serious head injuries in case of an accident.

Safety Statistics

A helmet is the most important safety equipment for a motorcycle rider. Depending on the situation, it can be the difference between life and death. You can clearly see the difference in helmet usage in states with the universal helmet law and others. In 2021, an estimated 86.1% of motorcycle riders wore helmets. And on the other states, it was only 53.4%.

You can also see the difference in the fatality cases in states without helmet laws and overall. In states like New Hampshire where there is no helmet law, 79% of the fatalities on motorcycles were not wearing a helmet. And out of all recorded fatality cases, riders were not wearing helmets in 39% of them in the United States.

According to the NHTSA, 1872 motorcycle riders were saved because they wore helmets. And an additional 749 could also be saved if they did the same.

Motorcycle Fatalities in States with No Helmet Law, by Helmet Use, 2021 

StatesTotal Fatality NumberPercentage Wearing HelmetPercentage not Wearing Helmet
Iowa 6825%75%
Illinois 17436%64%
New Hampshire 2621%79%
U.S Total593239%61%

Motorcycle Fatalities in States with Certain Age Limit, by Helmet Use, 2021 

StatesTotal Fatality NumberPercentage Wearing HelmetPercentage not Wearing Helmet
Florida 65149%51%
Michigan 17451%49%
U.S Total593239%61%

Motorcycle Fatalities in States with Universal Helmet Law, by Helmet Use, 2021 

StatesTotal Fatality NumberPercentage Wearing HelmetPercentage not Wearing Helmet
California 56593%7%
New York 21886%14%
Washington 9098%2%
U.S Total593239%61%

Wearing helmets can cut down motorcycle rider fatalities by 37 percent and passenger fatalities by 41 percent. To simplify, if all 100 riders who didn’t wear helmets had worn them, 37 lives could have been saved.

Arguments for Mandatory Helmet Law

Helmet laws for motorcycle riders exist to ensure safety. They are mandated for logical and practical reasons, aiming to protect riders from potential accidents and injuries. Here are some arguments for helmet laws for motorcycle riders:

  • Head Safety: Helmets protect your head and reduce the risk of brain injuries.
  • Reduce Injuries: Helmets safeguard your face, neck, and spine, making injuries less severe.
  • Healthcare Costs: Helmets help lower healthcare costs by reducing the seriousness of injuries.
  • Save on Insurance: Wearing helmets can lead to lower insurance costs due to fewer and less severe injuries.
  • Road Safety: Helmets contribute to safer roads and promote following traffic rules.
  • Legal Guidelines: Helmet laws provide a legal basis for safety, ensuring compliance and responsibility.
  • Encourage Responsible Riding: Helmets show a commitment to safe riding and responsible behavior.
  • Global Standards: Mandatory helmet laws align with global safety standards recommended by organizations like the World Health Organization.
which states can you ride a motorcycle without a helmet

Arguments against Mandatory Helmet Law

Many riders are aware of the risk of not wearing a helmet nowadays. However, there are still arguments against mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle riders. It’s important to know that these viewpoints often clash with arguments focused on putting public safety first. Here are some common logic against mandatory helmet laws:

Personal Freedom:

  • Argument: People should choose whether to wear helmets without government interference.
  • Counter: Safety regulations aim to protect individuals and society as a whole.

Individual Responsibility:

  • Argument: Riders should take responsibility for their safety, and helmet use should be a personal choice.
  • Counter: Injuries impact society, leading to increased healthcare costs and public burdens.

Risk Acceptance:

  • Argument: Riders are aware of the risks and should have the right to accept them.
  • Counter: Consequences affect more than the individual, impacting families, communities, and healthcare.

Helmet Effectiveness Debate:

  • Argument: Helmets may not always prevent severe injuries.
  • Counter: Studies support helmets’ effectiveness in reducing injuries and preventing fatalities.

Impact on Tourism:

  • Argument: Strict helmet laws may discourage motorcycle tourism, affecting local economies.
  • Counter: Public safety measures attract visitors, contributing to economic growth.

Enforcement Challenges:

  • Argument: Enforcing helmet laws diverts resources from more critical issues.
  • Counter: Challenges in enforcement should not overshadow the overall benefits of helmet laws.

Personal Comfort and Visibility:

  • Argument: Helmets can be uncomfortable and limit visibility, potentially causing accidents.
  • Counter: Helmets are designed for safety and comfort, with overall benefits outweighing concerns.

Helmet laws exist to guarantee public safety. It ensures riders are conscious of their well-being and taking measures to prevent injuries.

Which States Can You Ride A Motorcycle Without A Helmet

  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire

States Where All Riders Need to Wear Helmets

  • Alabama
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

States Where 25 and Younger Riders Need to Wear Helmets

  • Missouri

States Where 20 and Younger Riders Need to Wear Helmets

  • Arkansas
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska

States Where 18 and Younger Riders Need to Wear Helmets

  • Delaware

States Where 17 and Younger Riders Need to Wear Helmets

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming
  • Colorado
  • Alaska
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin
  • Maine
  • Minnesota


Helmet laws differ, but the need for wearing one doesn’t. Helmets are crucial for safety, shielding against head injuries in motorcycle accidents. Regardless of the law, choosing to wear a helmet is a wise decision that can save lives. So, wherever you ride, play it safe – put on your helmet and enjoy the journey with your safety as the top priority.

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