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California Motorcycle Helmet Laws

California offers a paradise for motorcycle enthusiasts. From the curving coastline to the cool air of the mountains and the excitement of big city cruising, the possibilities never end.

It’s very important that riders enjoy their trips, but it’s also vital that motorcyclists return home safe and sound. With that in mind, California regulates motorcycle travel, beginning with what they wear when they pull out of their driveways.

California requires all riders to wear helmets. However not just any helmet will due. It’s important to know what type of headgear you should have when you take the road and how not to get fooled when purchasing your safety equipment.

California’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

California mandates that anyone on a motorcycle must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant motorcycle safety helmet.

The law also applies to those on motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles. The motorcycle safety helmet must be certified by the manufacturer stating the helmet complies with U.S. DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. More information on these standards can be found in the California DMV Motorcycle Handbook.

The DMV points out that most motorcycle accidents happen at speeds slower than 30 mph. At these speeds, a U.S. DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet can cut the number of head injuries by 50% and also reduce the severity of those injuries.

There are a few things to be aware of when shopping for a legal motorcycle helmet:

  • A non-U.S. DOT-compliant helmet may look like a legal helmet and may be sold alongside compliant helmets. Make sure the U.S. DOT certification is on the helmet you wish to purchase. Non-U.S. DOT-compliant helmets may be referred to as novelty helmets, rain bonnets, lids, loophole lids, beanies, or brain buckets.
  • A non-U.S. DOT-compliant helmet generally has very thin liners and protective padding. These types of helmets lack the strength, size, and ability to protect the rider during a collision.
  • A U. S. DOT-compliant helmet may be decorated by the owner with stick-on items such as decals, Mohawks, Viking horns, etc. but the modifications cannot affect the safety properties of the helmet.

State transportation officials remind riders that helmets are most effective when they fit snugly all the way around. The helmet should not have defects such as cracks, loose padding, or frayed straps. The helmet must be securely fastened on your head to offer protection.

Other Motorcycle Gear Suggestions

Other protective clothing and gear are not mandatory, but the Department of Motor Vehicles encourages riders to use:

  • Face and/or eye protection.
  • Protective apparel, such as a leather or long sleeve jacket with reflective material, long heavy pants, and full-fingered leather gloves.
  • Over-the-ankle boots or closed-toe shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover and support your ankles. Soles should be made of a hard, durable, slip-resistant material. The heels should be short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Tuck in the laces so they will not catch on your motorcycle.

If You Are in a Motorcycle Accident in California…

Insurance adjusters are known to try to shift blame to riders after motorcycle accidents based on outdated stereotypes. Don’t settle for this type of “bad faith” behavior if you or a loved one are hurt in an accident caused by a careless driver.

Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, works hard to see that motorcyclists are never blamed unfairly for an accident. Contact Maison Law for a free, no-obligation case consultation to find out how to earn the financial support you need to pay hospital bills and get your life back on track.

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