Does Pennsylvania require motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?

Question

Does Pennsylvania require motorcycle riders and passengers to wear a helmet?

Answer

Pennsylvania does have a motorcycle helmet law, but it is not the sort of catch-all “universal” helmet law that a lot of states have passed. Those laws require anyone riding on a motorcycle to wear a helmet, whether as an operator or as a passenger, and regardless of age or experience. By contrast, in Pennsylvania only certain people are required to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, mainly anyone who is under 21 and riders who are relatively inexperienced.

Specifically, according to Pennsylvania law, the following categories of people are not required to wear a helmet on a motorcycle in the state:

1) Any operator or occupant of a three-wheeled motorcycle that is equipped with an enclosed cab.

2) A person who is 21 or older and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years.

3) A person who is 21 or older and has completed a motorcycle rider safety course approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

4) The passenger of a person who qualifies under one of the exceptions listed above, as long as the passenger is 21 or older.

You can find the full text of Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet law at Pennsylvania Statutes Title 75 section 3525. And for more motorcycle safety regulations, licensing information, and tips for riders in the state, check out the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Motorcycle Information Center.

If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in Pennsylvania and you’re not wearing a helmet, be aware that it could have a negative impact on any personal injury lawsuit you file. If your case goes to trial and the jury decides that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence, any damages you’re awarded could be reduced. Learn more about how Pennsylvania’s “comparative negligence” rule works in our article Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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