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Exemptions to Mandatory Helmet Laws



Summary: Links to examples of helmet law exemptions.




The links below are to pages related to exemptions from mandatory helmet laws. Only the first few apply to a bicycle helmet law, and the rest are for motorcyclists and low-powered vehicle users.

Bicycle Helmet Laws

  • Victoria, British Columbia bicycle medical exemption

    The following persons are exempt from the requirement under section 184 of the Act to wear a bicycle safety helmet:

      (a) a person for whom the wearing of a helmet would interfere with an essential religious practice;

      (b) the operator of, and each passenger carried by, a pedicab or quadricycle;

      (c) Repealed. [B.C. Reg. 305/99, s. 2 (b).]

      (d) a person who is in possession of, and produces on request to a peace officer, a valid and subsisting certificate issued by the superintendent on the recommendation of a medical practitioner certifying that the person is, for the period stated in the certificate, unable for medical reasons to wear a bicycle safety helmet;

      (e) a person under the age of 12 years who operates a non-chain driven 3 or 4 wheeled cycle which is designed for recreational use by children.

    [am. B.C. Reg. 305/99, s. 2.]

    [Provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318, relevant to the enactment of this regulation: section 184 (6)]

  • Formerly in the Pennsylvania law, apparently repealed.

    (b.3) Exemption.--This section shall not apply to a child under 12 years of age who can produce a statement from the family's church authorities attesting that it is against the tenets of the family's religion to-wear a helmet.

  • New Zealand's bicycle helmet medical exemption was apparently repealed. A Web search indicates that some of the exemptions were sought by anti-helmet law riders rather than for the religious reasons or physical problems that had been expected.

  • Australia's State of Northern Territory has perhaps the most curious exemption of all. It apparently limits the helmet requirement for anyone over 17 to public roads with motor traffic. Here is the text of the law.


Motorcycle and Other Helmet Laws

  • Bill Analysis of California bill AB 3338 1994

    The bill would have provided for an exemption to California motorcycle helmet requirements for a driver or passenger with a physically disabling condition or medical condition that would prevent the wearing of a safety helmet, if the condition is duly certified by a physician or chiropractor. The California Association of Rehabilitation Facilities stated "we are unaware of any medical conditions that would preclude wearing a safety helmet and believe this provision would create an 'underground industry' in furnishing exemptions from this critical requirement." Opponents were concerned that the medical exemption was a back door repeal of the helmet law. The California Division of Motor Vehicles believed the change would severely hamper enforcement efforts, since no traffic officer could know if a helmetless motorcyclist qualified for an exemption. Here is an analysis of another virtually identical bill.

  • Texas motorcycle helmet exemption analysis by protesting motorcycle riders.

    An early Texas law once provided for ten day exemptions to the helmet requirement for "a person who has an acute head or facial injury that would be worsened if the person wore protective headgear." The ten day exemption required a physician's certificate. This provision was eliminated in 1997.

  • UK motorcycle helmet exemption for Sikh turban users. The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations of 1989 also exempt a Sikh from the requirement to wear a safety helmet on a construction site if he wears a turban.

  • Michigan exemption for low speed vehicle wearers if they are in a vehicle with a crush-resistant roof. (Somebody did not get it.)


Our list of Helmet Laws

We keep a current list of mandatory helmet laws by state and local jurisdiction.


How to treat standards

Advice for anyone writing a new helmet law on what helmet standards to reference.


Texts of Laws

We have a number of mandatory helmet laws from states and localities in the U.S. available:





    This page was updated or partially revised on: October 27, 2016. BHSI logo
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