There really is nothing like the fresh summer air in Illinois. You’ve been waiting all winter to dust off the motorcycle and let the wind run through your hair. Cars simply cannot emulate the feeling of riding a bike on a nice summer day. But unfortunately, this feeling comes with a great deal of risk. This risk increases substantially if you’re not wearing a helmet.
With this in mind, does Illinois motorcycle helmet law require proper headwear?
Wearing a motorcycle helmet in Illinois sounds like a no-brainer. The Land of Lincoln has the seventh most vehicles on the road of all 50 states. Moreover, the I-55 stretch around Chicago is one of the most congested stretches of road in the country.
However, the law tells a different story.
Does Illinois Have a Helmet Law?
Nearly every state has laws regarding motorcycles – only three have no laws mandating helmet use. As of this writing, Illinois is not one of the states with helmet laws for motorcyclists. While riders do not have to wear helmets, protective eyewear is a requirement.
Even with the relaxed laws, the Illinois Department of Transportation strongly recommends wearing proper head protection.
Illinois Helmet Law and Safety
When examining motorcycle safety, Illinois ranks nearly in the center. According to data from the Government’s Highway Safety Association, just over 14 percent of fatalities on the road involve motorcyclists.
Do The Surrounding States Have Motorcycle Helmet Laws?
Unlike Illinois motorcycle helmet law, Wisconsin and Indiana mandate helmet usage to some degree. However, neither have universal helmet use, which requires EVERYONE on a motorcycle to wear a helmet.
In Wisconsin, all motorcyclists under 17 must wear a helmet. Additionally, those operating a motorcycle with a learner’s permit are required to wear helmets – and passengers must wear a helmet too, even if they are over 17.
Motorcycle drivers in Indiana are required to wear helmets and eyewear if they are under 18 years old. Motorcyclists with a motorcycle learner’s permit must also wear a helmet, as well as their passengers.
In terms of safety, both Indiana and Wisconsin have similar numbers when it comes to motorcycle fatalities.
What Are the Risks of NOT Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?
The risks of not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle are huge.
In a vehicle, you are surrounded by metal walls that are tested for accidents. On a motorcycle, you don’t have this luxury. Even low-speed accidents can result in serious injuries or death. A helmet is the only significant protection you have against accidents. By not wearing head protection, you are putting yourself at serious risk of:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones and fractures
- Ear damage
- Dental injuries
- Eye damage
- Permanent disfigurement
Head injuries can have consequences that last a lifetime – and it doesn’t take much to do a lot of damage. This is why states with helmet laws give out large fines to motorcyclists who do not follow the rules.
Are Motorcycle Helmets Effective?
Yes, very much so. Data from the NHTSA indicates that helmets are about 37 percent successful in preventing death in motorcycle accidents.
Even though helmet use is optional for many motorcyclists in Illinois and the surrounding states, the general consensus among safety experts is that helmets save lives. It’s also recommended that motorcyclists:
- Use protective eyewear, like goggles and face shields.
- Wear protective clothing to minimize injuries like road rash and lacerations.
- Wear gloves to protect hands from lacerations.
In addition to helmets and protective clothing, there are many other basic safety precautions to help avoid serious injury or death on a motorcycle. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Maintain a safe speed.
- Avoid weaving between traffic.
- Do not perform stunts unless you are properly trained to do so.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Never drink and drive.
No matter how you look at it, you’re always more vulnerable on the road in a motorcycle than in a car. Any amount of carelessness could potentially be a life or death situation.
What Are Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident?
Wearing protective headwear is your choice under Illinois motorcycle helmet law. Drivers are required to respect motorcyclists on the road, no matter what. If you’ve been involved in an accident, this choice shouldn’t play any role in your right to seek compensation.
However, it’s important to note that insurance companies do not see it like this. If you chose not to wear a helmet, they will likely use this to attempt to minimize liability. Plain and simple, hiring a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer to fight for your claim is the best decision you can make.
As attorneys and Illinois residents, we strongly urge motorcyclists to protect themselves. Regardless of what the Illinois motorcycle helmet law says, we hate seeing victims (and their families) suffer because they weren’t wearing a helmet.
The Next Steps
Knowing what to do after a motorcycle accident is a scary thought. You may be looking at serious injuries and expensive medical bills. Whether you were wearing a helmet or not, you have rights. Your primary concern should be your recovery and getting your life back. Leave the legal hurdles to the experts.
Keep in mind, motorcycle accident lawyers work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they won’t charge you anything to take the case. These attorneys make a percentage of the total settlement paid by the at-fault party. Every victim of a motorcycle accident deserves skilled legal counsel, and this agreement means they can acquire it with no out-of-pocket costs.
For any other questions about Illinois motorcycle helmet law – or personal injury law as a whole – don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Midwest injury Lawyers. We are always happy to clear up any confusion you might have and point you in the right direction. Call our office at (312) 786-5881 or send us a message online to get started.