Riding a motorcycle comes with unique risks and safety hazards compared to driving a standard motor vehicle. One of the greatest risks is the rider hitting his or her head and suffering a serious brain injury in a motorcycle accident. Traumatic brain injuries can be deadly or permanently disabling for victims. To combat this risk, many motorcyclists choose to wear helmets. Helmets may be mandatory depending on the laws in your state.
Kansas Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Kansas requires helmets for all motorcycle riders who are not at least 18 years old (both motorcycle operators and their passengers), according to Kansas Statute Section 8-1598. All motorcycle riders under the age of 18 must wear helmets at all times. Individuals over the age of 17 can use their own discretion to decide whether or not to wear motorcycle helmets. The same law is in effect for riding a motorized bicycle in Kansas.
Kansas law also states that all motorcycle helmets must comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s minimum guidelines for safety. They must abide by the stipulations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 as well. In addition to the helmet requirement, all riders – including adults – must use eye protection such as protective glasses or goggles, unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield with a minimum height of 10 inches from the center of the handlebars. Kansas’ helmet and goggle laws do not apply to people riding in enclosed cabs.
What If I Ride Across State Lines? Do I Need to Comply With the Local State Laws?
Your state’s motorcycle helmet law does not follow you into other states. Once you ride your motorcycle across state lines, you will be subject to the laws in that state. If you choose not to wear protective headgear as a rider over the age of 17 in Kansas, for example, you will not be in violation of the law. As soon as you ride into Missouri without a helmet, however, you could face an infraction for breaching Missouri’s helmet requirement.
Missouri law requires all motorcycle riders, regardless of age, to wear motorcycle helmets. The only exception if the motorcycle drivers are over the age of 26 and have proof of medical insurance. Crossing state lines from Kansas to Missouri, therefore, may require you to put on a helmet. It is important to understand the laws in your destination state before you cross state lines. Otherwise, a law enforcement officer could stop you and issue a ticket.
What If I’m Traveling Through Multiple States – Should I Wear a Helmet?
Wearing a helmet is a requirement for motorcyclists in most states. Traveling through multiple states, therefore, comes with high odds that you will cross through a state that makes wearing a helmet mandatory. Rather than risking getting pulled over and having to pay a fine for an infraction in a different state, use a motorcycle helmet if you plan on traveling through multiple states. It can be especially inconvenient if you have to go to court over the infraction, as you will need to travel back to the state where you received the ticket to attend your court date. Avoid this issue by always wearing a helmet on long trips.
The Importance of Wearing a Helmet
Wearing a helmet is important for more than just legal reasons. It could save your life. In 2017 alone, the Kansas Department of Transportation reported 55 motorcyclist fatalities and 1,066 total motorcycle accidents. Of riders killed in motorcycle accidents, only 18 (32.7%) were wearing helmets. Less than half (44.3%) of the motorcyclists seriously injured in these accidents were wearing helmets.
Helmets are critical devices that drastically reduce the risk of serious brain injuries in motorcycle accidents. Regardless of the law in your state or the laws where you plan on riding your motorcycle, err on the side of caution and implement helmet use. Wearing a helmet reduces a motorcyclist’s fatality risk by 22% to 42% and the risk of brain injuries by 41% to 69%, according to studies. Not wearing a helmet could result in severe physical injuries including traumatic brain injuries. It could also lead to a ticket depending on state laws. Always wear a motorcycle helmet while riding for optimal safety.