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Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in Georgia?

Motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road. Unlike drivers and passengers in enclosed vehicles, motorcyclists are not protected by a steel frame, seatbelts, and airbags in the event of an accident.

To reduce injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists, many states have enacted laws requiring that these motorists use helmets. In Georgia, motorcycle helmets must meet minimum safety standards set by the federal Department of Transportation.

Of course, motorcycle helmets will not prevent crashes from happening. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our office today to speak with an experienced Georgia motorcycle accident lawyer. Read on to learn more about motorcycle accident laws and statistics.

Georgia Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Motorcycle accidents cause a disproportionate number of injuries and fatalities. According to a 2021 report from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, motorcycles accounted for only 2 percent of registered vehicles statewide in 2019. However, motorcyclists accounted for 11 percent of all traffic fatalities as well as 21 percent of all driver fatalities in that same year.

According to the same Georgia motorcycle accident report:

  • Approximately 170 people died in motorcycle accidents statewide.
  • Of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions, 18 percent were speeding at the time of the crash.
  • The total cost of treating motorcycle accident victims in hospitals and emergency rooms totaled to $221 million.
  • Roughly 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents in Georgia occurred within the Atlanta metro area.
  • Five counties — Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Bibb — accounted for 33 percent of all motorcycle crashes.
  • Though motorcyclists between ages 25-34 represent 12 percent of riders, they account for 23 percent of motorcyclist fatalities.
  • From 2017 to 2019, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities increased by 22 percent.

What Protection Do Helmets Provide?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,579 motorcyclists were killed while on the road in 2020 alone. The primary reason motorcyclists contribute disproportionately to annual fatality statistics is the lack of protection offered by their vehicles. The NHTSA further reports that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers and passengers in enclosed vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, research consistently shows that the added protection provided by motorcycle helmets saves lives. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets are 37 percent effective for riders and 41 percent effective for passengers when it comes to preventing death.

More specifically, wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury — for example, traumatic brain injury (TBI) — by nearly 70 percent. Helmets achieve this by absorbing the force from blows to the head if you are thrown off a motorcycle. Helmets with face shields offer the added benefit of protecting your eyes in a crash, as well as while riding your motorcycle.

What Other Safety Equipment Is Required for Georgia Motorcyclists?

Motorcycle helmets are not the only mandatory safety gear according to Georgia’s motorcycle laws. Motorcyclists in the state must comply with the following safety regulations:

  • Motorcyclists must wear eye goggles unless their helmets are equipped with face shields.
  • All motorcycle riders must use proper footwear.
  • Motorcycle operators may only carry passengers if their motorcycle has a built-in passenger seat.
  • All motorcycles must be equipped with passenger footrests.
  • Handlebars cannot be set more than 25 inches above the driver’s seat.
  • All motorcycles must be equipped with at least one side-view mirror.
  • All motorcycles must be equipped with headlights and taillights, which should remain on whenever the motorcycle is in use.

Common Injuries Suffered in Motorcycle Accidents

Again, because motorcycles offer little protection in the event of an accident, motorcyclists often suffer more severe injuries than drivers and passengers in enclosed vehicles.

Common injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement
  • Whiplash and other neck injuries
  • Herniated discs and other back injuries
  • Crushed, severed, or amputated limbs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Injuries to internal organs
  • Broken bones
  • Severe lacerations
  • Burn injuries
  • Road rash
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional distress

What to Do If You Are Hurt in a Georgia Motorcycle Accident

Traffic accidents often leave victims confused and disoriented if not severely injured. However, if you are injured in a motorcycle crash, there are a few steps you should take to protect your right to compensation.

Consider taking the following steps after a motorcycle accident:

  • Gather evidence at the crash scene – If possible, you should visually document the vehicles involved in the crash, your injuries, skid marks on the road, traffic signs, weather conditions, and other important evidence at the scene. Photographs and videos taken on your phone can turn out to be crucial evidence in your case.
  • Gather contact information – Collect names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance information from all other motorists involved in the accident. Be sure to collect the names and contact information of any witnesses present at the scene as well.
  • Seek medical treatment – Seek medical attention as needed. If you are not taken to a hospital from the crash scene, see your doctor soon afterward to have any injuries diagnosed, treated, and documented in your medical record. Remember, some injuries do not appear immediately after the accident. Therefore, see a doctor even if you do not feel hurt.
  • Save your medical bills and treatment records – These documents will serve as important evidence when evaluating your injuries, losses, and compensation.
  • Use caution when speaking with insurers – Be careful when speaking to the at-fault party and any insurers. Specifically, do not admit fault or accept any settlement offers before speaking with an attorney.
  • Hire an attorney – Bring your case to a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can explain your legal rights and make sure you are not taken advantage of.

Contact a Georgia Motorcycle Crash Lawyer Today

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s carelessness, you are likely entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses. The personal injury attorneys at the law office of Kevin A. Adamson are a phone call away. We are ready to evaluate your case and strategize your path toward maximum compensation. Call today for a free consultation.