Operation of a motorcycle is an endeavor which, if done carefully, is perfectly safe and often enjoyable. However, there are certain safety precautions that the law prescribes to ensure that operators and their passengers are protected while they ride a motorcycle in order to reduce potentially dangerous conditions.
Do I need to wear a helmet or other protection under the law?
While it is a good idea no matter what the law prescribes for you and your passenger to wear a helmet, it is not required by law for any operator or passenger over 18. However, the law does require you to wear eye protection which will help preserve your sight. The law states that acceptable forms of eye protection include face shields, goggles, and glasses thus any eye protection which conforms to that description will likely pass muster.
What about motorcycle operators or passengers who are under 18?
Wisconsin law requires both passengers and operators who are under 18 to wear helmets. Even if an operator is over 18, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle in Wisconsin if the passenger who is under 18 does not have a helmet on. Wisconsinites who are under 18 who ride regularly on motorcycles or plan on riding a motorcycle should note that there are specific legal requirements for helmets to make them road-worthy. Any helmet that you don should have a “DOT” symbol on it indicating it has been approved by a federal agency and thus passes all federal helmet requirements.
What happens if I decide to ride without a helmet even if I am required to wear one?
If you are required to wear a helmet under Wisconsin law and choose not to do so, you can be subject to a $175.00 fine by authorities every time you are found to be in violation of the law.
What if I’m not legally required to wear a helmet?
Even when not legally required to wear a helmet, motorcycle operators and passengers should strongly consider doing so as wearing a helmet decreases the risk of death and serious injury as a result of a crash. For example, in 2010, 23 motorcyclists who were wearing helmets died as compared to the more than 70 who were not wearing helmets that did. Additionally, Wisconsin state agencies identify more than 2,500 injuries and around 100 deaths as a result of Wisconsin motorcycle accidents. This is the strongest argument for protecting yourself and others even if the law does not require it.