If you are going to ride a motorcycle in Utah, it’s important to understand the laws about using motorcycle helmets in Utah. Most motorcycle safety organizations and professionals strongly encourage motorcycle riders to wear helmets whenever they ride. However, helmet laws by state can vary greatly.
5 Tips for Purchasing and Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet in Utah
- Motorcycle Helmets in Utah Must Be DOT Approved
- Check the Safety Rating for the Motorcycle Helmet
- Make Sure the Motorcycle Helmet Fits Correctly
- Choose the Right Motorcycle Helmet for Your Ride
- Replace Motorcycle Helmets Every Five Years
Let’s take a closer look at motorcycle helmet law in Utah and tips for purchasing a safety helmet for motorcyclists.
Utah Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Do you have to wear a helmet on a motorcycle in Utah?
Utah has a partial universal motorcycle helmet law. Motorcyclists and riders under the age of 21 years must wear protective headgear while operating or riding a motorcycle. Motorcycle helmets must also be worn when riding a motor-driven cycle, class 3 electric-assisted bicycle, or an autocycle that is not fully enclosed.
Motorcycle helmets in Utah must comply with the specifications under 49 C.F.R. 571.218, which means that protective headgear must meet or exceed the DOT standards for a safety helmet.
What happens if you don’t wear a helmet?
If you are under 21 years of age and riding a motorcycle without wearing a motorcycle helmet, you can be charged with a traffic infraction. Riders who are found guilty of violating motorcycle helmet laws in Utah can be fined.
Are motorcycle helmets effective for highway safety?
It is estimated that wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of dying in a motorcycle accident by 37 to 42 percent. Motorcyclists who do not wear a helmet are three times more likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries compared to riders who choose to wear protective headgear. However, protective headgear that does not meet the requirements for DOT motorcycle helmets (novelty helmets) are not as effective in preventing head injuries, brain injuries, and death from motorcycle accidents.
Why do motorcyclists not wear helmets?
Motorcycle riders choose whether to wear protective gear, including headgear, for a variety of reasons. Some riders claim that universal motorcycle helmet laws violate their civil rights. Other riders claim that headgear interferes with the enjoyment of riding a motorcycle. Sadly, these reasons do not negate the data that indicate universal motorcycle helmet laws reduce injuries for motorcycle drivers and passengers.
5 Tips for Purchasing and Wearing the Best Motorcycle Helmet
Motorcycle riders do not have the same protections that individuals who experience a car accident in Utah have from airbags and safety belts. Motorcycle helmets in Utah and throughout the United States are considered to be an effective means of protecting a rider from head injuries and brain injuries in the event of a motorcycle crash.
1. Motorcycle Helmets in Utah Must Be DOT Approved
What does DOT on motorcycle helmets mean?
The “DOT” on a motorcycle helmet stands for the federal government’s Department of Transportation. The DOT sets safety standards for motorcycle helmets in the United States, according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 or FMVSS 218. The standard applies to helmets sold in the United States intended for on-road use. FMVSS 218 sets safety standards for motorcycle helmets related to the helmet’s penetration resistance, impact attenuation (energy absorption), and the effectiveness of the retention system (the straps of the helmet).
All motorcycle helmets in Utah that motorcyclists use for riding a motorcycle on-road must meet or exceed DOT standards. When you purchase motorcycle helmets in Utah, you need to verify your helmets are DOT approved to comply with current motorcycle laws. A “DOT” emblem affixed to a motorcycle helmet indicates that the helmet complies with FMVSS 218.
However, some emblems may be fake. When purchasing a motorcycle helmet, keep these tips in mind:
- Always look for DOT-certified on the helmet. However, some helmets may have fake DOT stickers, so always check the physical characteristics of the helmet to ensure they meet DOT standards.
- The inner liner of a DOT-certified helmet is at least one inch thick. You may not see the liner, but you should be able to feel it when you rub your hand along the interior of the helmet.
- Helmets that meet or exceed DOT standards typically weigh at least three pounds.
- Any object on the outer surface of the motorcycle helmet cannot extend past the surface of the helmet more than 2/10 of an inch to be DOT compliant.
- Always check for the manufacturer’s label inside the helmet or on the surface of the helmet. All DOT-certified helmets must have a label that contains the manufacturer’s name, helmet model number, month & year the helmet was manufactured, helmet size, construction materials, and owner information. If the label is missing any of this information, the DOT sticker could be fake.
- Check for a sturdy chinstrap with solid rivets.
- Full-face motorcycle helmets are more likely to be DOT compliant because full-face novelty helmets are not very common.
- Verify the motorcycle helmet was tested by an independent lab, such as Snell or American National Standards Institute.
Are all motorcycle helmets DOT approved?
Novelty helmets typically do not meet DOT safety standards. These helmets are not designed to protect the rider from injuries in a motorcycle crash. Some motorcycle helmets in Utah may appear similar to a DOT-approved helmet without complying with DOT standards.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) does not test motorcycle helmets to ensure that the helmets are DOT compliant. They enforce standards by sending random samples of motorcycle helmets to an independent lab for testing. Manufacturers are expected to test and self-certify helmets for compliance with DOT standards before affixing the DOT emblem onto a motorcycle helmet.
2. Check the Safety Rating for the Motorcycle Helmet and Ensure DOT Compliance
Because manufacturers are responsible for testing and self-certifying compliance with FMVSS 218, riders should thoroughly research the safety rating and for motorcycle helmets in Utah. In addition to the DOT standard, the ECE and Snell standards are also commonly used to determine the safety rating for a motorcycle helmet. A rider can research the safety ratings for motorcycle helmets online through third-party review services, such as Consumer Reports.
The ECE (Economic Commission of Europe) is a multinational standard that is used by more than 50 countries throughout Europe. Motorcycle helmets with an ECE sticker meet or exceed the current ECE standards for a safety helmet. Snell standards are set by the Snell Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that sets safety standards for protective headgear. Snell is an independent voluntary testing procedure used to test the safety features of motorcycle helmets. Snell maintains a list of all motorcycle helmets that meet Snell Standards.
Protective headgear for motorcycles can comply with one or more safety standards. While all motorcycle helmets in Utah must comply with DOT standards, you may also want to purchase a helmet that meets or exceeds Snell and ECE standards.
3. Make Sure the Motorcycle Helmet Fits Correctly
Purchasing a motorcycle helmet that fits correctly is crucial to receive maximum protection from head injuries and brain injuries caused by a motorcycle accident in Utah. When you purchase a motorcycle helmet, begin by determining your head size and shape. Most people’s heads fit into one of three head shapes — round oval, long oval, or intermediate oval.
The best way to determine your head shape is to have someone take a picture of your head from above after flattening your hair as much as possible. After determining your head shape, measure the size of your head with a flexible tape measure from just above your eyebrows to the back of your head at the widest part.
Because manufacturers may not use the same sizing chart, measuring your head is just a starting point for correctly sizing your motorcycle helmet. You may need to try on several different types and models of motorcycle helmets to find the right fit for you. Your motorcycle helmet should be comfortable, but it should not slide or move freely when you tug on it or you move your head. It should be snug, but not have any areas that cause pressure on the face or skull.
A properly fitted helmet should lay just above the eyebrows without the back of the helmet touching the nape of the neck. If you can insert your finger between your head and the interior of the helmet with the chin strap securely fastened, you might need a smaller size.
4. Choose the Right Motorcycle Helmet for Your Ride
Some motorcycle helmets are designed for specific riding conditions or certain types of motorcycles.
- Full face motorcycle helmets have good ventilation and are comfortable. Many riders choose these because they also have aerodynamic features that can be desirable if the rider is traveling on interstates or for longer distances.
- Modular motorcycle helmets are popular with adventure dual-sport motorcyclists who desire protection from dust and dirt while allowing for good airflow. These helmets can be open face or full face.
- Off-road motorcycle helmets are preferred for off-road riding, such as motocross. The helmet has an extended visor and chin bar, but riders require goggles for eye protection.
- Dual-sport motorcycle helmets also have extended visors and chin bars that require goggles, but newer models have integrated face shields. This type of helmet can be used in almost all weather and off-road conditions.
Choosing a motorcycle helmet can feel overwhelming because of the wide variety of types, models, and styles of helmets. For novice motorcyclists, seeking assistance from someone with special knowledge or experience when choosing a motorcycle helmet can be helpful.
5. Replace Motorcycle Helmets Every Five Years
How often should a motorcycle helmet be replaced?
The general rule is to replace a motorcycle helmet every five years. Many manufacturers and motorcycle safety professionals agree that normal wear and tear, materials used in the production of the helmet, hair products, and body fluids can contribute to helmet degradation. However, a helmet that sits most of the time can still degrade with time. Therefore, it is good to replace helmets about every five years, or sooner depending on other factors.
When do you need to replace a motorcycle helmet?
Three factors typically impact how often you need to replace your motorcycle helmet — helmet quality, maintenance practices, and amount of use. If someone rides a motorcycle a great deal, the person may need to replace their motorcycle helmet more often than an infrequent rider. Helmets that are high quality may not need to be replaced as often as economy or budget helmets. Likewise, a rider who takes care of a motorcycle helmet may not need to replace the helmet as often as a rider who does not perform any motorcycle helmet maintenance.
Signs that it is time to stop wearing a helmet include:
- The helmet was involved in any impact or crash
- There is any sign of outward damage, such as cracks
- The inner lining is damaged or has become loose
- The manufacturer’s expiration date has expired
- After five years
Why Is It So Important to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet?
Do motorcycle helmets prevent head injuries?
Research shows that wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury and other head injuries caused by motorcycle accidents. The NHTSA found that motorcycle helmets were 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Motorcyclists not wearing helmets have three times the risk of sustaining a brain injury compared to riders wearing helmets.
Wearing Motorcycle Helmets in Utah May Prevent Some Severe Injuries
Utah helmet law states that wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is not required if you are over 21 years of age. If you do not wear a motorcycle helmet, it may not impact your car insurance in Utah, either. However, failing to wear a motorcycle helmet when you ride a motorcycle can increase your risk of a severe or life-threatening head injury.
Contact a Utah Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Help
Even when wearing a helmet, the motorcyclist can sustain head injuries in an accident. The motorcycle accident attorneys at Acadia Law Group fight for the rights of riders when they are injured in an accident. Contact our office for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you recover money for an injury claim. Call 1-800-653-4600 to begin your free case evaluation.