Florida doesn’t require motorcycle riders over the age of 21 to wear a helmet! How many times have we been driving down one of Florida’s highways only to see someone on a motorcycle without a helmet? While riding a motorcycle can be a fun, enjoyable way to navigate the traffic congested Florida roads, most riders don’t protect themselves properly to do so.
The Shaked Law Firm has stressed the importance of motorcycle safety here on The Law Resource several times in our various article series’. However, this article will explain why Florida’s lax motorcycle helmet laws shouldn’t lull riders into a false sense of security.
What is the best way to stay safe on a motorcycle?
Staying safe on the road begins before leaving the house. Drivers must take care to have all insurance policies in place before ever getting behind the wheel of a new car. Parents are responsible for ensuring new teen drivers have taken and passed proper Drivers’ Education courses. The same responsibility lies with motorcycle riders. Insurance policies must be in place, while new riders should pass extensive motorcycle handling courses. For a mode of transportation that lacks the safety of a car, there’s another added safety measure: a helmet.
This responsibility is a matter of personal safety, not a matter of law. That’s because as of 2000, in Florida, riders age 21 and over who are covered by an adequate ($10,000+) health insurance policy (always reference the specific policy to be sure of your coverage) have not been required to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.
How do experienced riders avoid injuries?
The purpose of a helmet isn’t based on whether or not the law requires motorcycle riders to do so. The purpose of a helmet is to protect the head, neck, spine, and brain from catastrophic injuries. These are injuries that could result in TBI and in worst case scenarios, fatalities.
According to extensive research by Dr. Rob Spivey, trauma program manager at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, FL in an article published by Florida Today in 2016, Spivey shared:
[…]Helmets are designed to both absorb impact and extend the time of impact. During a crash, the body and the head are traveling at forward speeds. This created energy is proportionate to speed. The higher the speed equates to more force that is generated,” more than 70 studies since the year 2000 “support that the use of motorcycle helmets in decreasing the incidence of lethal head injuries, death and non-lethal head injuries related to the use” of helmets for motorcyclists.
Experienced riders set the example
Wearing a helmet sets an example for younger riders who look to adults for the right thing to do. Children can suffer serious injuries riding a bike due to lack of helmet. When children see Mom or Dad riding a bike or a motorcycle without a helmet, they won’t learn the importance of it.
Hit and run accidents can happen when a child is riding their bike in a neighborhood they know well. Accidents usually happen close to home, where children live and play often. There’s no warning when a negligent driver speeds past a stop sign with no regard for children playing. What parents can do is employ all measures of safety for children available. It’s important teach children proper safety precautions to take when with friends.
Motorcycle safety checklist
To conclude this article, we’ll provide a quick “safety checklist” to ensure our readers have the facts they need to know:
- Florida law doesn’t require riders over age 21, with $10,000 or more in health insurance coverage to wear a helmet. However, that doesn’t provide an excuse not to wear one.
- Traumatic brain and spine injuries can occur due to motorcycle collisions. A helmet can help prevent catastrophic injuries by softening the impact of the road on the brain.
- New motorcycle riders should have extensive motorcycle handling courses under their belt before they take to the road.
- Gear such as gloves, protective glasses, and long sleeve clothing can be worn to protect body parts from life-threatening injuries.
- Parents must stress the importance of wearing a helmet to their children; children should not ride a bike without safety precautions such as a helmet, knee, and elbow pads.