Motorcycle Helmet Safety Bill Passes House

May 15, 2019

The House of Representatives voted favorably Tuesday evening to approve legislation requiring motorcycle riders under 21 years of age to wear a helmet, taking one more step to promote motorcycle safety among young operators.

“I have heard from constituents how surprised they are that Connecticut bikers are not required to wear helmets,” said House Chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee Rep. Roland Lemar (D-East Haven/New Haven). “Protecting our youth and adults from potentially serious head injuries is not debatable and doing what we can to help keep everyone safer on the road is certainly a step in the right direction.”

“Our current laws don’t do enough to protect motorcycle operators who may not have enough experience to navigate roadways they share with distracted drivers,” said Deputy Speaker Michelle Cook (D – Torrington) who championed the bill. “For some, a helmet can be the difference between life and death after one slip on a patch of sand, gravel, or other obstacle. Helmet laws work to protect operators from life threatening injuries and brain damage, and I am pleased my colleagues recognize this necessity.”

After a number of motorcycle accidents in recent years, a 19-year old constituent reached out to Rep. Cook urging her support for a bill requiring young operators to wear helmets.

“I reached out to Rep. Cook last fall after the Northwest Corner of Connecticut lost what felt like a number of young lives, including some of my friends,” said Taylor Wheeler, a student at the University of Connecticut and Torrington resident. “I was shocked to learn a number of young people are injured or lose their lives in accidents each year. It does not feel fair to lose friends at this age, especially to incidents where extra reinforcement may have helped.”

Between 2015 and January 2019, fatal motorcycle crashes accounted for an estimated 17 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to the University of Connecticut’s Connecticut Crash Data Repository. In 2015, the State Department of Transportation found that over half of victims killed or seriously injured in motorcycle crashes were not wearing a helmet.

Motorcycle operators are particularly vulnerable to severe and fatal injury because they lack the protection an enclosed vehicle provides, and helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths, and 67 percent in preventing brain injury.

If signed into law, Connecticut would join nine other states including Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island that require motorcycle operators 20 years old and younger to wear a helmet. The law would take effect October 1, 2019, and violators could have to pay a fine of up to $90. The bill applies to drivers of motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds and motorbikes.

Press Release: Motorcycle Helmet Safety Bill Passes House