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West Virginia Helmet Laws 2019

Posted in Safety Tips on June 10, 2019

Every state enforces unique laws pertaining to bicycle and motorcycle helmets as well as helmet use while operating other vehicles, like motorized bikes, mopeds, and electric scooters. West Virginia residents should know these laws to avoid fines and to maintain maximum possible safety while riding wheeled vehicles in West Virginia.

West Virginia motorcyclists carrying motorcycle helmets

Bicycle Helmet Laws in West Virginia

West Virginia only enforces helmet use for bicycle operators age 15 or younger. All such riders must wear appropriately fitted bicycle helmets with a strap that fastens under the chin. While bicycle owners have a wide selection of available helmets from which to choose, bicycle riders should try to find one with verified safety capabilities and high consumer satisfaction scores.

While the state only requires helmet use for riders 14 and younger, all bicycle riders should understand the value of wearing an appropriate bicycle helmet. A good helmet can significantly reduce the risk of a fatal head injury and mitigate the damage from a traumatic brain injury in an accident.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in West Virginia

Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is even more important than it is on a bicycle. Motorcycles are some of the most inherently dangerous vehicles on the road. All motorcyclists should understand the risks of foregoing proper helmet use. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that motorcycle helmets can reduce the risk of fatal head injury by up to 37% and reduce the risk of serious head injuries by up to 67%. No rider should overlook the potential safety a helmet can provide.

West Virginia state law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers of all ages to wear appropriate headgear at all times. Additionally, a helmet must meet the Department of Transportation’s criteria for safety:

  • The helmet must have a thick inner layer of polystyrene foam.
  • The chinstrap must have secure rivets.
  • Helmets should weigh about three pounds.

Riders should look for helmets with “DoT certified” stickers or labels. Riders have a variety of helmet choices available, but it is essential to find one with DoT certification if you plan to ride in West Virginia. Failure to abide by the state’s motorcycle helmet law could potentially lead to fines and license suspension.

Best Practices and Safety Tips

If you plan to purchase a bicycle helmet for your child in West Virginia, take time to find one that is DoT-certified and fits your child’s head comfortably. The helmet should be securable with a chinstrap and should not wobble when worn. For motorcycle helmets, riders have a variety of choices. Half-shell helmets offer greater visibility than full-shell or enclosed helmets, but the tradeoff is less overall protection. The IIHS reports the safest type of motorcycle helmet to wear is a fully enclosed helmet with a movable visor. This limits visibility restriction while offering the highest degree of protection in an accident.

Wearing a helmet is not just a way to protect yourself and avoid legal penalties; you could also potentially absorb civil liability in an accident if you fail to wear a helmet as required by law, even if another driver caused the accident. For example, if another driver hits you and you sustain a head injury but were not wearing a helmet, you would likely absorb some amount of fault for the accident, diminishing the potential recovery you could secure from a successful lawsuit.

If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a bicycle or motorcycle accident, speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential options for legal recovery. If you believe a bicycle or motorcycle helmet failed to meet claimed specifications or did not perform as advertised, a product liability attorney can help you determine if you have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer.