In New York state, motorcycle helmets are legally required for both drivers and passengers. Protective eyewear is also required for all riders. 

Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal consequences. You could even be faced with the loss of insurance coverage in the event of an accident. 

New York State Helmet Laws

The requirement to wear a helmet and protective eyewear has been a part of New York law since 1967. The law applies to both the operator and any riders. 

There are many reasons why New York State requires motorcycle riders to wear protection. These include:

  • Reduced fatalities
  • Less severe injuries
  • Less money spent on accidents

A motorcycle accident is dangerous. Severe accidents can even be fatal. Helmet laws exist to help reduce the likelihood of a tragic outcome. 

Approved Helmets

There are strict federal guidelines laid out for the specifications of motorcycle helmets to meet the Department of Transportation safety standards. In New York, helmets must meet these standards. Approved helmets can be identified by the presence of a US DOT sticker.

Not every helmet meets the safety requirements. Vanity or novelty helmets can be purchased, but these are often produced for aesthetics rather than safety. 

Approved Eyewear

In addition to an approved helmet, the state of New York also requires all motorcycle riders to wear protective eye gear. Eyewear provides an additional layer of safety, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. 

Eyewear is also carefully regulated. Goggles or a face shield will suffice to meet this safety requirement, but anything worn must also be in compliance with DOT safety standards. 

In New York, it is illegal to sell helmets or eye protection that are not in compliance with DOT safety regulations if they are intended for use by motorcycle riders. 

Because motorcycle helmets are required by law in New York, riders who are not in compliance can be pulled over and ticketed by law enforcement. 

Failure to comply with the helmet law can lead to fines, imprisonment, or both. Riders ticketed for failure to wear correct protection can be fined up to $100. They can also face up to 30 days of jail time. 

Insurance Consequences

Motorcycle helmets have a 67% efficacy rate in preventing brain injuries during accidents. Because helmets have a high likelihood of reducing serious injury, insurance companies factor helmet use into payouts for claims. 

If a motorcycle rider has been involved in an accident in which they were not at fault, but were also not wearing a helmet, insurance compensation may be reduced. 

If a driver or passenger was not abiding by the helmet law and was injured, an insurance company will consider the circumstances of the crash. 

It’s common for insurance companies to calculate the percentage of the injury attributed to the driver’s failure to comply with helmet law. A claims adjuster can then withhold that percentage from the overall payout amount. 

Depending on the circumstances of the crash, motorcycle riders can be left without adequate money to cover medical costs, damages, and lost wages. 

Drive on the Safe Side

Not all motorcycle riders enjoy wearing a helmet, but it remains a legal requirement in New York. Operating a motorcycle on public roads means there is an obligation for riders to follow the law. 

Failure to comply with the state safety regulations can result in fines and jail time. In the event of an accident or injury, the failure to wear a helmet can seriously reduce the amount of insurance money an individual can receive.

In short, if you decide to operate a motorcycle without the appropriate gear, you could face severe consequences.