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What are the motorcycle helmet laws in New York State?

Numerous laws regulate how people are required to behave in public. For example, there are specific rules that apply to those operating motorcycles on New York roads.

Do riders in New York have a legal obligation to wear a helmet?

New York requires consistent helmet use

Some states do not require that motorcycle riders wear helmets. Even though crash statistics show that negative outcomes are more likely without proper protective gear, many states let riders make that choice for themselves.

New York has a very clear law requiring riders to wear helmets when they operate motorcycles on public roads. It was actually the first state to impose such requirements. The potential penalties for riding without a helmet include a fine of $100 and up to 30 days in jail. Only those approved by the Department of Transportation are legal. Novelty helmets are not legal when worn in this state.

Failure to follow the law has a strong association with increased risk for motorcycle riders. Roughly 43% of fatal motorcycle wrecks involve a rider who is operating without a proper license. Motorcyclists account for about 14% of traffic fatalities in New York but only 2% of the registered vehicles. Failing to wear a proper helmet seriously increases someone’s risk of dying in a motorcycle crash.

Yet, it is important to clarify that failure to wear a helmet does not prevent someone from maintaining a right to seek compensation from a liable party after a crash. However, this failure could potentially influence how much they ultimately receive if they file a lawsuit. At the end of the day, mistakes that contribute to the risk of a crash or worsen the outcome of a wreck could impact someone’s rights after getting hurt in traffic.

Filing a lawsuit after a motorcycle collision could help a crash victim to pay their medical bills, repair their motorcycle and replace lost wages while they undergo treatment. Riders who comply with the law can reduce their risk and strengthen their right to compensation if they do get hurt.