Oklahoma Helmet Laws 2020: The Ultimate Guide

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Riding motorcycles on the open roadLooking for more information about Oklahoma helmet laws in 2020? Keep reading.

If you are riding a bicycle or a motorcycle in Oklahoma, it is important that you are aware of the Oklahoma helmet laws. This guide will tell you everything that you need to know about the laws and the reasons why they exist in the first place.

The Dangers Of Riding Without A Helmet

When riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, it is important that you are aware of the dangers. In an accident, it is almost always the bike that comes off worse. Riders are also more prone to dangers from the weather and road conditions, which is why helmets exist for protection.

Motorcycle warning signIn 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists died in accidents, and riders were 27 times more likely than car drivers and passengers to be involved in a fatal accident. It is estimated that motorcycle helmets saved 1,872 lives in 2017, but a further 749 lives could have been saved if all riders had been wearing helmets.

The latest figures from the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office show that 98 people were killed in motorcycles in 2011. A staggering 81% of those that died were not wearing a motorcycle helmet and there is a strong chance that many of those lives could have been saved if they were wearing a helmet.

Cycling is also incredibly dangerous. It is estimated that two cyclists were killed every day in the United States in 2018. This is an increase of 6.8% since the previous year, making it the most dangerous year for cyclists since 1990. It is estimated that wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of serious injury and death by up to 70%.

The laws vary from state to state and it is not always compulsory for people to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or a bicycle. The laws in Oklahoma are fairly relaxed for adults, but they are stricter for minors.

What Does The Law Say?

Rider no helmetThe Oklahoma helmet law does not make it compulsory for an adult to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. However, if anybody under the age of 18 is riding on the motorcycle, they are legally required to wear a helmet at all times.

While helmets are not compulsory for adults, there are some other rules that are not optional. All riders must wear some form of eye protection, like goggles, glasses or a windscreen. Riders must also use a headlight at all times, even during the day, and the bike must be fitted with two rear view mirrors. The law also sets out guidelines about the kind of helmet that under 18s must wear when on a motorcycle. They must have padding, lining, and chin straps and must not obstruct the view of the rider. The Commissioner of the Department of Public Health publishes lists of approved helmets and these are changing all of the time. However, the Department of Public health is forbidden from promoting one brand over another if the helmets are the same in terms of safety.

There are some exceptions to the Oklahoma helmet law and the rules around protective equipment do not apply if you are riding on an off-road trail. When you are not on the roads, you are not required to wear a helmet, regardless of your age.

Motorcycle standingThe laws around motorcycle helmets have changed a lot over the years. In 1965, Oklahoma was one of many states that made it compulsory for every motorcycle rider to wear a helmet. However, this law was changed in 1969 so it only applied to riders under the age of 21. But they reversed this decision in 1975 and, once again, required everybody to wear a helmet. The law was amended again the following year and changed to its current form, only requiring anybody under the age of 18 to wear a helmet.

The laws surrounding helmets while riding a bicycle in Oklahoma are a little more complex because there is not a blanket law that covers the entire state. In Oklahoma City, all cyclists are legally required to wear a helmet, regardless of their age. In Norman, the law only applies to people that are under the age of 16, and anybody older than that can choose whether they want to wear a helmet or not. The rest of the state is not covered by any laws about bicycle helmets, so it is down to the rider to decide.

Motorcycle crash in streetAlthough you may not always be required by law to wear a helmet, it is advisable because it significantly reduces your chances of injury or death if you are involved in an accident. The state of Oklahoma considers themselves anti-helmet law, but not anti-helmet, so even though they do not enforce it, they still encourage all riders to wear a helmet.

If you want to claim compensation after an accident, you will be more likely to win the claim if you were wearing a helmet because, if you chose not to, you may be considered partly responsible for any injuries that you sustained.

How Do Oklahoma Helmet Laws Compare With Other States?

Oklahoma CityHelmet laws vary by state as there is currently no federal law that requires the use of helmets when riding a motorcycle or bicycle. The Oklahoma helmet laws are similar to the law in the majority of states around the country. However, there are certain states that have a different approach.

Iowa and Illinois are the only two states that do not have a helmet law at all. That means that it is completely up to the rider and the passengers to decide whether they want to wear a helmet or not, even if they are a minor.

Throughout the rest of the country, the states are split. A lot of states have rules similar to the Oklahoma helmet laws and require riders under a certain age to wear a helmet. The age restrictions vary depending on the state, and some places have extra requirements that you need to meet before you are able to ride without a helmet. Texas, for example, only allows people over 21 to ride a motorcycle without a helmet if they have a health insurance plan that provides at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries sustained during an accident. Riders must also complete an approved motorcycle operator safety training course before they are allowed to ride without a helmet.

There are still 22 states that require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, regardless of age, health insurance, and training. In most of these states, the government will set guidelines about the type of helmet that you are required to wear, and you will be in breach of the law if you wear a helmet that does not meet the standards. The standards in helmets are always changing so it is important to keep up to date with the latest guidelines.

Helmet laws by state

Map and data credit to Edgar Snyder & Associates https://www.edgarsnyder.com/motorcycle-accidents/state-helmet-laws/

The laws about bicycle helmets also vary from state to state. There are no federal laws about bicycle helmets and most states do not have a blanket law. Instead, it is often left to localities to decide on the law. The Oklahoma helmet laws only covers bicycle helmets in a few areas, and this is fairly common around the country.

The majority of localities that have bicycle helmet laws have age specific laws that require children to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. In certain areas, like California, the helmet laws extend to scooters and skateboards as well.

There are currently 49 all-ages laws around the country that require everybody to wear a bicycle helmet. There are also 22 states, including the District of Columbia, that have statewide laws around the use of bicycle helmets.

What Are The Penalties For Breaking The Law?

If you are an adult and you choose not to wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle, that is perfectly legal. However, it can have some big repercussions if you are in an accident, even though you are not breaking the Oklahoma helmet laws.

During a compensation lawsuit, victims are assigned a percentage of fault if they are considered to be partly responsible for their injuries. By not wearing a helmet, you are knowingly putting yourself at higher risk of injuries if you are in an accident. Therefore, during the court proceedings, a percentage of fault will be determined and your compensation claim will be reduced accordingly, even if it is clear that the other person was at fault and caused the accident. This can put you in a difficult financial situation if you have large medical bills to pay and you are unable to claim full compensation after an accident.

Even though you may not be required by law to wear a helmet, it is always advisable to use the correct safety gear because it will make life a lot easier if you are involved in a crash and want to claim compensation. It also significantly reduces your chances of being injured in a crash.

Choosing The Right Helmet

When you are buying a helmet, it is important that you do your research so you can ensure that you are buying one that meets safety standards. This is relatively easy because all helmets sold in the US are required to meet standards set out by the Department of Transportation. Every year, they stress test a wide range of different helmets and update safety standards to ensure that all helmets that are sold provide adequate protection. There are a number of different things to check for when comparing different helmets.

The Inner Lining

The inner lining is incredibly important because it provides protection as well as comfort. The federal guidelines specify that all helmets must have at least one inch of thick polystyrene foam. This lining is not always visible, but you should be able to feel it. Although one inch is the minimum, you should look for helmets with a thicker lining if possible. A helmet is unsafe if it does not have any lining at all, and it should not be sold in the US.

The Chin Strap

All helmets that meet the federal guidelines will have a sturdy chin strap that helps to keep the helmet secure. It is especially important that you check the rivets that hold the strap onto the helmet to make sure that they are secure.

The Weight

The weight of a helmet makes a big difference to the safety, and any helmets that weigh a pound or less tend to be unsafe. The guidelines specify that a good helmet should weigh around 3 pounds at least. Comfort is important, so you do not want a helmet that is too heavy, but you do need something with a bit of weight because it will offer more protection.

Design and Style

The guidelines do not allow anything to extend more than two tenths of an inch from the helmet because this can be unsafe. When you are looking for helmets, avoid anything that has spikes or other similar things protruding from it. Beyond that, you need to make sure that the helmet is comfortable, so make sure that you try on plenty of different types and find a helmet that fits well.

All helmets that meet the safety guidelines will have a ‘DOT’ sticker on them. If you cannot find this sticker, do not buy the helmet because it has not been certified as safe by the Department of Transportation.

The Oklahoma helmet laws are relatively relaxed. Although anybody under the age of 18 is required to wear a certified helmet when riding a motorcycle, adults do not have to. However, you do need to wear the right eye protection if you are riding without a helmet.

Where bicycles are concerned, there is no statewide law around helmets. In Oklahoma City, you are required to wear a helmet and in Norman, minors legally have to wear a helmet. Outside of these areas, you are not required to wear a helmet while cycling.

However, it is advisable to wear a helmet because it reduces the chance of fatal injuries and it will help you to make a larger compensation claim after an accident.

Clayton Hasbrook practices in the area of general litigation, with an emphasis on personal injury law. In 2008 Clayton earned his Juris Doctorate degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Clayton is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, Oklahoma County Bar Association, American Association of Justice, Oklahoma Association of Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers “Top 40 under 40.”