When motorcyclists are involved in accidents, they lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. This lack of protection greatly increases their risk of injury and death. In fact, the number of deaths on motorcycles per mile traveled is nearly 29 times higher than the number in other vehicles. Head injuries are a leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents, so helmet use is crucial. While no helmet completely eliminates this risk for motorcycle riders, they are about 67 percent effective in the prevention of brain injuries and reduce the risk of death by about 37 percent.
Bikers are not required by law to wear helmets in all states, but Georgia has fairly strict regulations to help prevent injuries and death. What does the Georgia motorcycle law mean for bikers in the state? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
Georgia Motorcycle Helmet Law: The Basics
Georgia’s motorcycle helmet law has been in place and remained relatively unchanged since 1969. While most states have partial helmet laws that typically only require riders under a certain age to wear a helmet, Georgia is one of just 19 states that requires all bikers to wear a helmet. Section 40-6-315 of the Georgia statutes states:
“No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety”
The law continues: “This Code section shall not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab or motorized cart. This Code section shall not apply to a person operating a three-wheeled motorcycle used only for agricultural purposes.”
What These Laws Mean for Bikers
In layman’s terms, Georgia requires all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear helmets when operating or riding on a motorcycle, unless the vehicle is specifically excluded by the statute’s language. The information excerpted here is the most important part of the law, but it is not the only thing that bikers need to know. It is also important to choose the right helmet. In Georgia, bikers are required to wear helmets that have been tested and approved for use by motorcyclists by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In addition, Georgia motorcyclists are required to wear DOT-approved protective eyewear. This eyewear may be a visor on the helmet or a pair of approved goggles. Lastly, helmets with built-in speakers are only permissible for communication purposes. They cannot be used for listening to music or other forms of entertainment.
While many motorcycle riders believe that whether to wear a helmet or not should be a personal choice, extensive research indicates that helmets are effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and traumatic brain injuries. Most bikers understand that wearing a helmet is a smart thing to do, but many also feel that being required to do so by law infringes on their freedom. Failing to wear a helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle in Georgia comes with some pretty stiff consequences, so motorcyclists should think twice before ignoring this law.
Consequences of Not Wearing a Helmet
Despite the statistics, many motorcyclists still refuse to wear helmets when hitting the open road in Georgia. While riding without a helmet is classified as a misdemeanor, it could cost you up to $1,000 in fines. It also carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail. While these harsh penalties are generally not enforced, anyone caught riding or operating a motorcycle without the proper protective headwear should still expect to pay a hefty fine. Offenders are also commonly assigned to perform extensive community service.
Failing to wear a helmet could hurt you in other ways, too, if you are involved in an accident. Because helmets are required by law, you may not be able to get compensation if you are injured in a motorcycle accident while not wearing one. For example, if you suffer a head or neck injury while not wearing a helmet, your claim may be rejected if you did not wear a helmet when required to do so by law.
Wearing a motorcycle helmet makes sense. Whether you are the operator or the passenger, wearing a helmet drastically reduces your risk of injury or death. Doing so also means that you don’t have to worry about facing fines, jail time or community service. Regular helmet use also makes it more likely that you will be able to receive compensation if you are involved in an accident.