New York Motorcycle Helmet Law

New York law requires all motorcycle drivers and passengers, regardless of age, to wear a DOT-approved helmet and protective eyewear when on a motorcycle.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Under New York law, all motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a DOT-approved helmet and protective eyewear at all times. Riders can look for a US DOT sticker on the helmet to make sure that it meets the safety standards.
As the popularity of motorcycles grew in the 1960s, momentum for motorcycle helmet laws increased alongside it. Today, virtually every state has laws to regulate helmets, and they’ve been highly successful in protecting riders on the road. In fact, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
, helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017 alone.
Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state, so it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with your state’s rules. The driving expert and
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in New York?

Yes. New York law requires helmets (and eyewear!) for both the driver and the passenger on a motorcycle. Keep in mind that they must be DOT-approved—novelty helmets aren’t going to cut it in the Empire State.
If you’ve got a class A or B moped (one that hums along at 20 mph or more), you’ll need to follow the same laws as motorcyclists and pop on a helmet before you hop on your bike.

Exceptions to New York’s motorcycle helmet law

Though there are no age-based exceptions to the helmet law, there are some vehicles that you can ride without head and eye protection. In particular, New York allows drivers of Class C mopeds—those with a top speed of 20 mph or less—to ride without a helmet.
For a breakdown of moped driving laws, check out
this information
from New York’s DMV.

Penalties for breaking New York’s motorcycle helmet law

If you violate New York’s motorcycle helmet law, you could be looking at:
  • A fine of up to $100
  • Jail time of up to 30 days
  • Both a fine and imprisonment
So, it’s best to play it safe and buckle up your helmet each time you ride!

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

Though it can be frustrating to feel a helmet squeezing your head instead of the wind whipping through your hair, consider this: motorcyclists who wear a helmet are 40% more likely to survive a crash than riders who leave theirs at home.
The story of motorcycle helmet laws begins with T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia), a British diplomat and officer in the army. Lawrence
died in a motorcycle accident
when he was just 46 years old after he swerved his motorcycle to avoid two young boys in the road. The high-profile crash inspired Hugh Cairns, a neurosurgeon who cared for Lawrence after his crash, to begin research on motorcycle helmets in an effort to prevent future riders from meeting Lawrence’s same fate.
Today, helmets save hundreds, even thousands, of lives in the United States each year. We already mentioned that helmets saved nearly 2,000 lives in 2017 alone. According to the NHTSA, if every rider had been wearing a helmet, another 749 lives could have been saved that year!
In New York, almost 4,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2018, mainly near
New York City
. So, if you own a motorcycle and live in the heart of the city, it’s important to slide on a helmet each time you hit the road.

How to find cheap car and motorcycle insurance in New York

The simplest (and best!) way to protect yourself on the streets is to wear a helmet. When it comes to finding savings on insurance, the simplest and best place to start is with
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