North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Law: A Guide

A grey black motorcycle and a red helmet

In spite of repeated efforts to repeal it, North Carolina law continues to require helmets for all motorcycle riders. The proposed NC motorcycle helmet law in 2019 (House Bill 267, the 5th time it was introduced) would have repealed the current law and allowed motorcycle operators and passengers 21 years of age and older to operate and ride on a motorcycle without a helmet. Several trauma surgeons and safety advocates lined up to testify against the bill, which did not pass.

This guide breaks down where the helmet law stands today, and what it says.

Is There a Helmet Law in NC?

Yes. The NC helmet law passed in 1968, and it is a universal helmet law that requires all riders and passengers to wear a helmet every time they ride, regardless of age. The NC bike helmet law also states that all operators and passengers on motorcycles and mopeds must wear a motorcycle safety helmet that complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 and has an official DOT sticker.

The Risks of Repealing the NC Motorcycle Helmet Law

Experts believe that repealing motorcycle helmet laws would increase the risk of serious head and body injuries to motorcycle riders and passengers in the event of a wreck.

A study by the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University found that motorcycle death rates due to head injuries are lower in states that have helmet laws. The study stated, “Motorcycle helmet laws reduce fatalities, serious cognitive disabilities, and social costs.” As evidence, it reported that from 1999-2019, there were roughly 7,000 more deaths in those states without helmet laws than would have been the case had the helmet laws been in effect.

Different Points of View on the NC Motorcycle Helmet Law

Opponents of the NC helmet law repeal believe that not requiring helmets would jeopardize the safety of all riders. Supporters contend that “riding free” is a right and wearing a helmet should be a choice.

Those who support changing the rules on helmet use believe that the issue is a matter of personal freedom. They believe that no adult should be required to wear a helmet if they do not want to. They also argue that helmet mandates divert attention from other proven safety strategies, such as awareness and education.

Opponents of any change to the NC helmet law, however, are concerned that the risk of death will increase if the mandatory helmet law is repealed. They argue that the current law is working well, and there is plenty of evidence to support the claim. The CDC, for example, indicates that North Carolina leads the United States in terms of both money saved and lives saved as a result of the helmet law.

Opponents of the change to the helmet law also point out that states that have relaxed their helmet laws have seen an increase in both deaths and brain injuries. This increases the Medicaid costs for the state, and of course, also results in more people coping with serious injuries.

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Who Care

Regardless of what the law is, we want all motorcycle riders and passengers to be safe. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle wreck, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free case evaluation.

Our firm has represented motorcycle accident victims since 1997, and we have NC attorneys and staff with many years of riding experience. Our motorcycle accident lawyers know that helmets can significantly reduce the chances of death or serious injury. We study the accident statistics and understand the risks riders face.

But more importantly, we understand that victims may be due compensation, regardless of helmet use, when they suffer a serious or fatal collision due to someone else’s negligence. And we know how to fight insurance companies for the rights of injured riders and passengers. Call us at 1-866-900-7078.

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Michael Jordan

About the Author

Michael Jordan is an attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in North Carolina and has been practicing law for more than 20 years. Mike assists clients with their personal injury, workers’ compensation, eminent domain, products liability, medical malpractice, mass tort, and other cases. He’s a member of the American Association for Justice and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ), where he serves on the Legal Affairs Committee after previously serving on the Board of Governors. The NCAJ has recognized Mike’s active participation, service, and commitment by awarding him the “Order of Service” award most years since the award’s inception.