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Oklahoma Helmet Laws: Does a Helmet Really Help?

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

If you are riding a motorcycle in Oklahoma, you should be wearing a helmet. If you are under 18 years old, you are legally obligated to do so. This is because Oklahoma has what’s known as a “partial helmet law.”

What Is a Partial Helmet Law?

Depending on the state, partial helmet laws apply only to motorcyclists who are young, inexperienced, or underinsured.

In Oklahoma, anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet, regardless of experience or insurance coverage. Once an individual turns 18, however, they can choose whether or not to wear a helmet at their own discretion. Partial helmet laws are different than universal helmet laws, in that they are more difficult to enforce and do not regulate individuals who are over a certain age.

Most experts and regulatory agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend universal helmet laws, but the state of Oklahoma repealed theirs in 1976 and have not yet joined the wave of states reinstating these universal laws.

Even without a legal obligation and/or penalty, though, you should be aware of the real costs of riding without a helmet.

Helmet Stats or Why You Should Wear a Helmet

Head injury is the leading cause of death in fatal motorcycle accidents, which occur at an alarming rate of almost 5,000 per year. The federal government estimates that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of dying in a crash by 37-42%, and unhelmeted drivers are 3 times more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries than those who wear helmets.

Some motorcyclists choose not to wear helmets due to an increased risk for neck injury and reduced peripheral vision and hearing. Nevertheless, these arguments are not supported by credible evidence, and more than 12 studies have refuted the claim that helmets cause neck injuries. Additionally, a 1994 study proved that helmets do not restrict the ability to hear horn signals or see other vehicles.

Passenger Helmet Regulations

Universal helmet laws are extremely effective because they require helmet use for all riders, including passengers. Any motorcyclist or passenger spotted without a helmet can be issued a citation, whereas helmet laws that apply only to young drivers are nearly impossible to enforce.

On top of this oversight, Oklahoma statutes regarding passengers do not specify the age, nor helmet-status of passengers. While no one under the age of 16 may transport another person on their motorcycle, this vagueness is only accounted for in the equipment statutes, which forbid anyone under 18 to operate or ride upon a motorcycle without a helmet.

Harmed With or Without a Helmet? We Can Help!

While our team at Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC recommends helmet use at all times, we support your ability to ride according to Oklahoma law, which allows for rider discretion.

If you were injured on a motorcycle, our firm can help you, whether you were wearing a helmet or not.

Simply give us a call at (918) 347-6456 or schedule a free consultation online.

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