Mandatory Helmet Laws
Summary: Links to copies of helmet laws and materials on them.
We keep a current list of mandatory helmet laws by state and local jurisdiction.
The NTSB has made an unprecedented study of bicycle injuries and countermeasures, announced in 2019. They recommend major improvements in almost all of the elements that make up the bicyclist environment, and also the passage of all-ages helmet laws. An early press release in November 2019 said the study will be available soon.
The current helmet position paper of the League of American Bicyclists. And here is their reaction to the NTSB recommendations.
Advice for anyone writing a new helmet law on what helmet standards to reference.
Ohio Youth Bicycle Helmet Ordinance Toolkit. "Assisting local communities in educating decision makers on the importance of a youth bicycle helmet law." If you are lobbying for a law, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has produced this unique guide.
We have a number of mandatory helmet laws from states and
localities in the U.S. on our site, but are replacing them with direct links when available:
Texts of Laws
- We recommend looking at the Hernando, MS, law passed in 2010 as one that covers all the bases and has up-to-date language on standards.
- Vancouver, Washington's all-ages law, Effective in March, 2008. It covers almost all the bases, and is well worth a look if you are drafting a law. We liked their treatment of helmet standards.
- New Mexico's 2007 law covers tricycles, the only law to do so at the time it was passed.
- Spokane, Washington's all-ages law, passed by their City Council in June, 2004 and effective later that summer. It has some new wrinkles, and unfortunately cites the old defunct ANSI standard.
- The California law now including scooters, skateboards, skates and electric bikes. Passed in 2002, amended several time since.
- The Louisiana law for kids under 12 has what we consider the best language yet for handling the standards question. It requires the CPSC standard for helmets manufactured after March 1, 1999 and permits other standards for helmets manufactured earlier than that date.
- The Sierra Vista, AZ law for children under 18. It includes skateboarding and requires rental bikes to come with a helmet.
- The North Carolina Law for children under 16. They wisely left out anything at all on standards and used the words "protective bicycle helmet" instead. But they require the helmet to be "of good fit," whatever that may mean.
- The Massachusetts state helmet law for children under 12.
- The Delaware state helmet law for riders under 18.
- The federal government's Child Bicycle Safety
Act of 1994 (full title: PL 103-267, enacted 6/16/94), which required CPSC
to put together a Federal bicycle
helmet standard. We also have the full text of
the law in plain ascii format (an 18K file). There was, of course, no
funding ever approved to implement the Act, but CPSC carries on regardless.
The Oregon state helmet law for children under 16.
- The law for the Canadian province of British Columbia.
- The Rhode Island helmet law for children under 8.
- Maine's law for anyone under 16 took effect September 18, 1999.
- The Hawaiian helmet law for children under 16.
- The District of Columbia helmet law for children under 16 , adopted in 2000 with antiquated standards requirements.
- The Tucson, AZ helmet law including rentals. It has antiquated standards requirements.
- The Howard County, Maryland helmet law for children under 16 adopted in 1990 with antiquated standards requirements. Here is the DOT page that shows the amendment lowering the age from under 17 to under 16.
- The Billings, Montana helmet law for children under 16 adopted in 2000 with antiquated standards requirements.
- The Cary, North Carolina, law for children under 16, adopted in 2001 with antiquated standards requirements.
- The Bainbridge Island, Washington, all ages law, with provisions requiring race organizers to notify participants, and a requirement for helmets certified to the CPSC standard or "such subsequently nationally recognized standard for bicycle helmet performance as the City Council may adopt."
- The Suffolk County NY law supplementing the State of New York's law covering riders up to 14 with their own ordinance to cover riders and skaters from 14 to 17.
- Helmet requirements under U.S. military regulations.
- To search municipal codes and county codes in many US jurisdictions, we find Municode.com very useful.
Exemptions for some riders in some laws
We have a page on helmet law exemptions with some of the exemptions that have been written into laws. A helmet law with exemptions is more difficult to enforce, since with some of the exemptions police cannot determine whether or not a bare headed rider might be exempt.
Evaluations of Helmet Law Effectiveness
We have a page up of responses to points raised in the Internet "helmet wars". It includes links to a number of sites that oppose helmet laws.
Other Views - some even opposed to ours!