North Carolina Motorcycle Helmet Laws 

woman happily fastening a motorcycle helmet

Nothing is as exhilarating yet relaxing as a motorcycle journey through North Carolina’s scenic countryside. However, before you hit the road on two wheels to enjoy all the state offers, you should brush up on North Carolina motorcycle, moped, and scooter helmet laws. Not only can understanding these laws protect you from legal penalties, but it could also save your life.

At Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, our dedicated motorcycle accident lawyers want to help you navigate North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet laws so you can have a safer, more enjoyable ride.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in North Carolina

North Carolina is one of almost two dozen states with universal motorcycle helmet laws. All motorcycle riders and passengers in North Carolina must wear a safety helmet.

Motorcycle helmets must be DOT-certified and include the DOT sticker on the back. Helmets must also have an inner polystyrene foam liner at least one inch thick. Helmets compliant with state regulations must also include a permanent label inside the helmet with the manufacturer’s name, helmet model, size, date of manufacture, type of shell, and liner construction materials. Novelty helmets do not protect you like DOT-certified helmets, which must meet rigorous federal safety and manufacturing guidelines.

However, a helmet does little good unless it fits your head. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends choosing a helmet that fits your unique head shape. Your helmet should be snug but not tight. You should feel even pressure around your head without uncomfortable pressure points. A properly fitting helmet should not shift or jiggle when you move and should include an adjustable chin strap. When choosing a suitable helmet, also consider your style. Do you prefer a helmet with a full-face shield, or do you want to wear separate eye protection like goggles?

Although not mandatory, other safety gear can also help decrease your chances of suffering catastrophic injuries. Consider wearing heavy-duty boots and gloves to protect your hands and feet if you hit the pavement. You should also wear a jacket and chaps made from leather or durable, abrasion-resistant fabrics. These materials can protect your skin from road rash. Lightweight cotton clothing like jeans and T-shirts do not protect delicate skin. In fact, its fibers can rip and get ground into open wounds if you were to skid across the pavement, potentially leading to infection.

Protective eyewear is also a valuable piece of safety gear for motorcycle riders and passengers. You can protect your eyes from dust, debris, and insects with a face shield attached to your helmet or by wearing approved safety eyewear like goggles.

Moped and Scooter Helmet Requirements in North Carolina

While mopeds and scooters are not technically motorcycles, they are motorized, street-legal vehicles. The same helmet laws apply to moped riders as motorcycle riders, meaning all moped riders and passengers must wear a DOT-certified protective helmet.

Penalties for Violating North Carolina Helmet Laws

Motorcycle and moped riders need to understand that there are penalties for violating North Carolina’s motorcycle helmet law. Individuals caught violating the North Carolina helmet law can face fines up to $25.50. You may also have to pay associated court costs and fees, which vary.

Riders should also consider other potential consequences for not wearing a helmet on North Carolina roadways. Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle rider deaths. They also reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) by at least 69 percent. The United States could save nearly $1.5 billion in economic costs if all riders and passengers wore helmets when riding.

While the legal penalties associated with not wearing a helmet may seem minor, the physical and financial penalties of getting into an accident while not wearing a helmet can be devastating.

Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in North Carolina

Unfortunately, North Carolina motorcycle accidents are worryingly common, and recent statistics from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles indicate that motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise.

In one recent year, 176 riders lost their lives in North Carolina motorcycle accidents. The following year, 202 riders died. Out of 3,712 recorded motorcycle accidents, 202 riders lost their lives, and another 2,847 were injured. In other words, 82 percent of recorded motorcycle accidents in North Carolina resulted in a motorcyclist injury or fatality.

As those numbers indicate, motorcyclists involved in crashes continue to represent a disproportionate number of accident fatalities. NHTSA estimates that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash and four times more likely to be injured compared with other motorists.

Some of the most common contributing factors in statewide motor vehicle accidents include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Speeding
  • Inattention
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Improper lane changes
  • Disregard of traffic signs or signals
  • Distracted driving

North Carolina motorcycle crashes claim lives. Wearing a helmet can significantly increase your chances of surviving a crash and preventing traumatic brain injuries.

Our North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Help Crash Victims

Does North Carolina have a helmet law? The answer is yes. Unfortunately, a helmet may not always protect you from injuries caused by careless or inattentive drivers. If another motorist caused a motorcycle accident that injured you, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries and other losses from them – regardless of whether you were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. However, building a solid claim can be challenging without the help of an experienced North Carolina motorcycle accident attorney.

At Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, we are committed to helping motorcycle accident victims protect their legal rights and seek meaningful compensation for their injuries. We want to manage your claim from start to finish, allowing you to focus on what’s important: your health and well-being.

Let our dedicated team review your case for free and outline your legal options for seeking maximum compensation. Contact our North Carolina office today and request a confidential case review.