Peterson Law Office provides our quick guide to Kentucky motorcyclist helmet laws. If you are a motorcycle owner in Lexington who was involved in an accident, our motorcycle crash attorneys can offer advice regarding your rights and legal options. We represent injured motorcyclists struck by a larger vehicle in Lexington, KY and throughout the state.
Kentucky Helmet Laws All Motorcyclists Need To Know
Riders in Kentucky have a duty to follow helmet rules and other laws specific to motorcyclists. Kentucky does not have a universal helmet law (a law requiring all operators and passengers to wear a helmet, regardless of age or license type). Instead, our state has a set of conditional helmet laws. The current regulations by which Kentucky motorcyclists must abide were instated in the year 2000.
If you own or operate your bike in Lexington, here are the Kentucky motorcyclist helmet laws you need to be aware of:
- Riders under 21 years of age must wear a helmet that meets federal DOT standards for motorcycle headgear safety. This includes both operators and passengers riding on the seat or in an attached sidecar.
- A person of any age operating a motorcycle with a motorcycle instruction permit must wear a DOT-approved helmet.
- A person of any age operating a motorcycle with a valid motorcycle operator’s license (or combination motor vehicle-motorcycle operator’s license) held for less than one year must wear a DOT-approved helmet.
Any Kentucky motorcyclist who does not fall into one of these three categories has the discretion to choose to wear a helmet or not.
Should Motorcyclists in Kentucky Wear Helmets?
Kentucky law leaves the decision to wear a helmet up to the eligible motorcyclist. But there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to show that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce your risk of catastrophic injury or fatality.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that in states without universal helmet laws, an average of 57% of motorcyclists killed during the year of study were not wearing helmets—compared to only 9% in states with universal helmet laws.
In Kentucky, the percentage is even higher than the national average. The most recent data shows that 74% of motorcyclists killed in Kentucky were not wearing helmets. This ranks Kentucky among the top five states with the highest percentage of unhelmeted riders in fatal crashes.
At Peterson Law Office, we encourage all Kentucky motorcyclists to make smart decisions that promote safety. You can’t control the actions of other motorists. But you can do your part to protect yourself to the best of your ability. This means refraining from risky riding behaviors and arming yourself with the best protective gear.
If you are wondering whether wearing a helmet actually makes a difference, consider the following statistics from the CDC:
- Helmets are 37% effective at preventing driver death and 41% effective at preventing passenger death.
- Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.
- In the most recent year of study, helmets saved 1,872 lives and could have saved 749 more if they had been worn.
- As a country, we could save $1.5 billion a year if all riders wore helmets.
What Injuries Are Most Common Among Kentucky Motorcyclists?
Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than other motorists. Passenger vehicle occupants have the armor of a metal auto body, seatbelts, and airbags to protect them. But riders often have nothing but the wind between them and the impact of a collision.
According to the NHTSA, in 2019, the number of motorcycle deaths in the U.S. was nearly 29 times the number of cars fatalities based on number of miles traveled.
Riders are more vulnerable to injuries or fatality when crashes happen. But there are a number of other factors that put motorcyclists at higher risk of a crash than vehicle occupants. Many car drivers don’t realize how dangerous it is for a rider to share the road with them—especially when their driving behaviors prove just how little consideration they give to bikers. Car drivers need to remember that:
- Riding a motorcycle requires skills and mental awareness that driving a car doesn’t.
- Weather that has little effect on a car has a severe impact on motorcyclists.
- Motorcycles are much harder to see than other cars, especially under conditions of limited visibility.
- Motorcycles can easily disappear inside a car’s blind spot, even a small blind spot.
If a motorcycle is struck by another vehicle, the odds of the rider suffering serious injuries is extremely high. There is a much greater chance the motorcyclist will be seriously hurt or killed than the driver or passenger of the other car.
Injuries commonly seen in Lexington car vs. motorcycle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries and head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Road rash
- Dislocated shoulder injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken ribs and lung damage
- Permanent disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
The cost of treating catastrophic injuries like these is enormous. Medical bills may continue to accumulate for weeks, months, or even years after the accident. With such pressing medical expenses, injured motorcyclists need to know they will be fairly compensated.
But insurance companies have a reputation for treating motorcyclists unfairly after a collision caused by another driver. Even if it’s not required by law, an insurance company may see your choice to not wear a helmet as a contributing factor to your injuries. If an insurer can successfully make this argument, your amount of financial award can be reduced.
Don’t let a big business insurance company take advantage of your rights as a Kentucky motorcyclist. If you were injured because a car driver was reckless, negligent, or aggressive behind the wheel, securing the help of a Kentucky motorcycle accident attorney is often the best way to protect yourself. A skilled lawyer will work to make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries, regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of your accident.
Peterson Law Office Advocates for Kentucky Motorcyclists
When you take your bike out on the roads of Kentucky, you expect that other drivers will respect your right to use the road. But as a law firm experienced in Lexington motorcycle accident cases, we know that doesn’t always happen.
If a car, truck, or SUV operator violates their duty to keep you safe, you shouldn’t be the one to carry the financial consequences. Contact Peterson Law Office to discuss your legal options with a qualified legal representative. If you are eligible for compensation, we will work diligently to make sure you receive the maximum financial award you are entitled to by law. A free consultation at our Lexington office is available on your schedule. Call or contact us online today.