Rhode Island Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Rhode Island has a partial motorcycle law that requires drivers 21 years old and under, as well as new drivers, to wear a helmet.
Written by Melanie Johnson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Under Rhode Island law, motorcycle drivers 21 and under—and all drivers within the first year of procuring their license, regardless of age—must wear a helmet. 
Since the 1960s, states have responded to the overwhelming number of deaths from motorcycle accidents by passing helmet laws. Motorcycle accidents were responsible for about 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2019, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Laws vary from state to state. That’s why car insurance broker and comparison app
is here to walk you through Rhode Island’s specific motorcycle helmet law. We’ll cover the requirements of the law, exceptions, and the statistics on fatalities in the state. 
We'll go over some ways to save on your
Rhode Island insurance costs
along the way, too.
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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in Rhode Island?

If you’re 21 years old or younger or if you got your license less than a year ago, you must wear a helmet while driving a motorcycle in Rhode Island.
If you are a passenger on a motorcycle—no matter what age—you must wear a helmet in Rhode Island. 
Rhode Island has a “partial” motorcycle helmet law—this means drivers over the age of 21 can choose whether or not to wear a helmet, but all passengers must wear one.

Exceptions to Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet law

Title 31, Chapter 10.1, Sections 1-4
  of Rhode Island General Laws, anyone 21 years old or older may operate a motorcycle without a helmet after their first year of driving—but there are some exceptions. 
Motor scooters are an exception to Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet law. A vehicle is considered a motor scooter and exempt from the helmet law if it: 
  • Has a motor of 4.9 hp or less
  • Has an engine of no more than 50 cc
  • Is unable to propel faster than 30 MPH
You must have a
basic driver’s license
to operate a motor scooter in Rhode Island.
Two other exceptions to Rhode Island’s helmet law are motorized bicycles and autocycles.
Motorized bicycles are defined as vehicles with:
  • Two wheels and pedals
  • A motor less than 2 hp
  • Top speed capacity of 30 MPH
Autocycles are defined as vehicles with:
  • 3 or fewer wheels and two pedals
  • A steering wheel
  • Non-straddle seats
Key Takeaway Scooters, bicycles, and autocycles are exempt from Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet laws.

Penalties for breaking Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet law

As of 2018, drivers and passengers who fail to comply with Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet law will be subject to an $85 fine

Why it’s important to wear a motorcycle helmet

A fine isn’t the worst possible consequence of not wearing a motorcycle helmet in Rhode Island. Let’s break down the history of the motorcycle helmet and dig into some recent motorcycle accident statistics to better understand the true risks of riding without a helmet. 
In 1935, the man known as “Lawrence of Arabia”—British army officer and diplomat T.E. Lawrence—died at just 46
in a motorcycle accident
. After this high-profile fatality, neurologist Hugh Cairns launched research on motorcycle helmets to help prevent future deaths.
Today, the NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmet laws help save hundreds of lives a year in the U.S alone. In states without universal helmet laws, as many as 57% of motorcyclists killed on the road are unhelmeted—as compared to just 9% in states with universal laws.
Rhode Island is no exception to these staggering statistics. Preliminary data from the
Rhode Island Department of Transportation
shows that in 2019, 30 percent of motorcycle fatalities involved drivers not wearing a helmet. 
Keep yourself safe on your motorcycle and always opt for wearing a helmet—whether it’s required by law or not.

How to find affordable car and motorcycle insurance

While a motorcycle helmet is the easiest way to protect yourself on the road, the
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