You frequently hear from opponents of mandatory motorcycle helmet laws that it should be a rider’s choice to wear helmets or not and I agree, but it is not. Today twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have mandatory helmet laws, taking away a person’s choice to decide whether or not to use protective head gear.
Currently, there are also mandatory helmet laws for low-power cycles, defined as a two-wheeled vehicle having less than a 50cc motor, two horsepower, or a top speed of less than 30mph. Twenty-three states have mandatory motorcycle helmet laws for all low-power cycles and twenty-four states have mandatory motorcycle helmet laws for some low-power cycles.
In the late 60’s, the federal government, through the Department of Transportation, was able to force riders to wear protective head gear by requiring states to mandate helmets if they wanted various safety funding and highway construction funds. In 1976, the penalties of withholding state funding if they didn’t have mandatory helmet laws were reversed. Still, even without the federal penalties, states have enacted their own laws to mandate helmet usage by some or all riders on two-wheels.
No matter what your reasoning is to wear or not to wear a motorcycle helmet, it should be your choice and unfortunately it’s not. Here is a list of Motorcycle Helmet and Other Laws by State.