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Travel at Your Own Risk: Illinois Lacks Motorcycle Helmet Laws

September 27, 2011

Despite the serious physical and psychological damage caused by Chicago traumatic brain injuries, Illinois does not require that motorcyclists or their passengers wear helmets. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 3,864 motorcycle accidents and 124 fatalities in 2009. In 2010, motorcycle accidents represented 14% of all Illinois motor vehicle crashes. Only two other states in the nation do not impose a motorcycle helmet law: Iowa and New Hampshire.

What safety related restrictions, if any, surround Chicago motorcycle use?

Chicago motorcycle laws imposing safety restrictions are limited. They include:

  • motorcyclists must wear eye protection unless the bike has a windscreen
  • the motorcycle must have a passenger seat
  • the motorcyclist must carry minimum insurance coverage
  • the vehicle must have a foot rest for passengers

In addition, motorcycle helmets are subject to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, which imposes standards for helmets on manufacturers and distributors.

Why do we need a Chicago motorcycle helmet law?

Traumatic brain injuries often result in severe physical, cognitive, sensory, and behavioral damage. Victims may suffer loss of quality of life, high medical costs, and lost income. Proper use of helmets, however, can reduce the likelihood of death or brain injury following a Chicago motorcycle accident.

What are the provisions of the most recent proposed laws?

The most recent proposed Chicago motorcycle law, HB0285, requires that all operators and passengers of motorcycles under the age of twenty-six wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards. Unfortunately, that bill was recently re-referred to the Rules Committee for review.

To learn more about Chicago motorcycle laws, contact a Chicago brain injury attorney by filling out our online form or calling our office at (847) 651-7191.

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