Georgia’s Motorcycle Helmet Law
Georgia sports plenty of beautiful locales for motorcyclists, showcasing everything from the Atlantic coastline to winding rural roads and metropolitan cityscapes. Yet being an avid motorcyclist does not come without its risks – in 2015, 152 motorcyclists died in traffic incidents, the highest number since 2008. There are scientifically proven benefits to wearing helmets on motorcycles, including a lowered risk of neck, head, and traumatic brain injuries. Many states (Georgia included) have enacted mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in the hope of increasing motorcyclist safety. For additional information regarding how helmet use could impact your case, consider speaking with a dedicated Atlanta motorcycle accident attorney.
Importance of Motorcycle Helmet Use
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%, and the risk of death by 37%. Helmets are the only safety measures proven to save motorcyclists’ lives. A motorcyclist wearing a helmet is three times less likely to sustain a brain injury than one without a helmet. Head and traumatic brain injuries make up a large percentage of motorcyclist fatalities. Despite resistance by many in the motorcycle community, Georgia has enacted motorcycle helmet laws with the aim of reducing motorcyclist deaths and preventing major injuries.
Mandatory Helmet Use in Georgia
Title 40 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic of the Georgia Code, states the rules of the road for motorcyclists. Chapter six, article 13, part two, section 40-6- 315 states that “No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she wears protective headgear.” Furthermore, the headgear must comply with standards the Georgia Department of Public Safety establishes. The Board of Public Safety can approve or disapprove headgear for motorcyclists, and enforce regulations that establish the standards for helmet approval. Proper headgear for motorcyclists must abide by the following rules:
- Thick inner liner
- Sturdy chin strap with solid rivets
- Average weight of about three pounds
- Design with no element extending farther than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface
- Contain the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker and manufacturer’s labels
If you aren’t sure whether your helmet obeys the state safety standards, ask your local motorcycle shop or contact the Georgia Department of Public Safety for clarification. Wearing an approved helmet is of the utmost importance, as it can mean the difference between life and death in an accident. Wearing unsafe helmets can also break the law, and result in penalties.
Penalties for Failure to Wear Motorcycle Helmets
In Georgia, failing to comply with the requirements of Title 40 can result in a fine of up to $15. If this rather light penalty doesn’t scare motorcyclists into obeying the law, the potential price of a personal injury lawsuit will. If a party brings a personal injury claim against an at-fault motorcyclist for a crash, the lack of a proper helmet may indicate the motorcyclist’s negligence.
Even if the judge finds the other party at-fault for the crash, failure to wear a helmet can significantly reduce the motorcyclist’s eligible award amount. If the judge deems that the motorcyclist’s injuries claimed would have been drastically reduced had the individual been wearing a helmet in accordance with the law, this fact could reduce the award amount or bar the individual from seeking damages at all. When faced with thousands of dollars in medical costs or a permanent injury such as brain damage, reduced compensation can be a devastating consequence.
The most compelling reason to obey Georgia’s motorcycle helmet laws is to reduce the risk of personal injury. Motorcycle accidents happen every day in Georgia. Reduce your odds of becoming another statistic by wearing an appropriate, DOT-approved helmet. Wearing a helmet can protect you from injuries, penalties, and liabilities in the event of a collision.