For many motorcyclists, the feeling of the wind in their hair is one thing that draws them to ride. However, for the last fifty-plus years, Missouri has required helmets on all motorcycle drivers and passengers.
In 2020, the state changed the law, allowing most riders to decide about wearing a helmet.
Facts about the new helmet requirements
The updated law states any motorcycle driver or passenger over the age of 26 is not legally required to wear a helmet as long as they have health insurance to pay for injuries they may sustain in a crash. Drivers or passengers under the age of 26 or who still have an instruction permit must still wear a helmet.
The law also clarifies that a law enforcement officer cannot stop a rider solely to verify age or health insurance status but that they may request a health insurance card during other types of traffic stops.
The results of this new law
While many riders may enjoy the freedom to choose their helmet option, dropping the legal requirement to wear one has coincided with an increase in fatal accidents for riders. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, in the first nine months of 2021, 72 riders not wearing helmets died due to a crash. This is an increase of over five times as many deaths compared to the same period in 2020 when 14 riders died.
By being aware of the risks versus rewards of not wearing a helmet, riders can make a choice regarding their safety.