Kentucky Motorcycle Helmet Laws

New riders and those under the age of 21 must wear the correct headgear when riding a motorcycle in Kentucky.
Written by Max Werner
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
law requires headgear and eye-protective devices for riders under the age of 21 as well as for those who have a driver’s permit or who’ve had a license for less than a year. Violators, including passengers, can expect a fine between $20 and $100.
Compared to other states, Kentucky is fairly lenient regarding helmet laws. Most riders can forgo a helmet if they have proof of insurance. Still, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, motorcycle accidents make up 14% of all traffic fatalities—and helmets can go a long way in preventing serious injury.
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Kentucky?

If you’re under 21, riding with a permit, or haven’t had a motorcycle license for more than a year, you must wear a helmet in Kentucky
The law only applies to helmet use on public roadways. Those who fall outside these conditions may ride without a helmet—although protective eyewear is required. 

Exceptions to Kentucky’s motorcycle helmet law

There is one exception to Kentucky’s motorcycle helmet law: the moped. State legislation sees this vehicle as little more than a motorized bicycle—exempting it from motorcycle safety rules and regulations. To be considered a moped, your vehicle must meet the following requirements:
  • Step-through frame design
  • Automatic transmission
  • Brake horsepower of two or less
  • Maximum speed of 30 miles per hour
Kentucky requires all motorcyclists to show proof of insurance. There are no helmet exemptions for those demonstrating additional liability coverage.

Penalties for breaking Kentucky’s motorcycle helmet law

Violating the Kentucky Motorcycle helmet law is a noncriminal traffic offense—meaning there won’t be lasting marks on your driving record. You will be subject to a fine of up to $100, which may increase with subsequent violations.

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

A $100 fine may seem like a steep price, but it isn’t the worst consequence for not wearing a helmet in Kentucky. Here’s a brief history of motorcycle helmets to showcase the importance of safety without a proper protector for your dome.
 One of the first high-profile motorcycle accident deaths was T.E. Lawrence—a British army officer and diplomat better known by the alias “Lawrence of Arabia.” At 46, Lawrence succumbed to head injuries he sustained from a
motorcycle accident
six days prior.
Lawrence may have died in 1935, but his high-profile tragedy encouraged neurologists worldwide to create better helmets for riders. Today, motorcycle helmets are estimated to save hundreds of lives a year, according to the NHTSA.
Just by looking at Kentucky alone, we can see how helmet laws affect the safety of riders. Kentucky initially required that all riders wear a helmet in 1968 but weakened the law in 1998—which saw motorcycle fatalities increase by over 50% that same year (

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