Motorcycle Helmets Should Be Required In Texas

A couple on a motorcycle crashed when the tire on their 2008 Harley Davidson blew out, causing the driver to lose control of the bike. In this motorcycle accident last Thursday at 8:50 p.m. on Interstate 35 near Waco, the passenger, 34-year old Crystal Shaw, was killed in the wreck. Neither driver nor passenger were wearing a helmet. I am currently working on a court case with the exact same facts, and three children will have to grow up without a mother. This “devil may care” attitude while riding these incredibly dangerous machines makes me angry.

Texas Motorcycle Laws Don’t Make Sense

Texas motorcycle laws require riders who are under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. However a rider who is older than 21 and who has completed a rider training program or who is covered by motorcycle accident medical insurance does not have to wear a helmet.

These laws assume that riders can fully protect themselves against an accident, which is far from the case. Riders can take precautions that substantially reduce the chance of having an accident, but some matters are out of their control. Training won’t stop a motorist from swerving into the path of a motorcyclist, cracked pavement from knocking the bike off balance or a defective motorcycle part from malfunctioning. I’ve handled too many of these cases.


In last week’s tragic accident, a blown tire sent the bike out of control. An investigation may reveal a faulty tire or that road debris had punctured the tire. Regardless of who is at fault, however, the accident was fatal. A helmet might have made the difference. Opponents of legal restrictions might point to the fact that the driver was also helmetless and yet survived. Although, thankfully, riders who do not wear helmets may still survive an accident, the risks of being killed or seriously injured increase substantially.

Of course, training in motorcycle operation is important. But, Texas law shouldn’t give a choice between training and helmet use; the law should require both. If this doesn’t win me any friends with motorcycle riders, I don’t care.

Helmet Use Down, Injuries Up Since Texas Universal Helmet Law Repealed

Texas had a universal helmet law on the books that required all riders to wear a helmet. That law was repealed in September 1997 and the detrimental effects became immediately obvious. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the use of helmets substantially declined virtually overnight. Pre-repeal, 97 percent of Texas motorcycle riders wore a helmet. By May 1998, the percentage of riders wearing a helmet dropped to 66 percent.

A study conducted by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service found that the death rate from motorcycle accidents shot up by 30 percent immediately following the universal helmet law repeal. The authors concluded, “The repeal of the universal helmet law in Texas in 1997 has had a significant adverse effect on motorcyclist fatalities in Texas.”

Berenson Law Firm Supports Universal Helmet Laws

Berenson Law Firm supports enactment of universal helmet laws because helmet use reduces the risk of severe brain damage and death. If you were injured in a motorcycle crash, let us help you recover. Call our Dallas-Fort Worth law firm at 817-885-8000 or toll-free at 1-801-8585 for a free case evaluation.

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