Did you know that scooters are motorcycles? Well, technically they are a class of motorcycles, but that is why you find moped laws and such wrapped up in your area’s motorcycle laws. There are engine size laws that make scooters feel like a different class of getting around town, so it’s easy to see how scooters seem like a gray area.
In general, only 3 states in the United States have no helmet laws. However, 19 states require all scooter riders to wear a helmet. The remaining states have helmet laws that depend on the size of the engine and age of the rider.
Read on for a jumping point on whether your state requires helmets or not.
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State Specific Helmet Law Summary
Wearing a helmet is all about protecting you, so it is definitely a good recommendation. I did some research on scooter safety if you want to dive in on safety in particular.
The big takeaway regarding helmets is that 60% of motorcycle fatalities were a result of no helmet.
Regardless, below are the state specifics I was able to dig up at the time of this article in 2021. YOU WILL DEFINITELY WANT TO CONFIRM THIS WITH YOUR DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES. Laws change!!
No helmet laws
If you are in Illinois, Iowa, or New Hampshire, you have no helmet laws.
All riders must wear a helmet
If you are in Alabama, California, District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, you must ride with a helmet.
All young riders must wear a helmet
Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah require younger riders to wear helmets. This varies by state, and several of the states have changed the threshold. If you are under 21, you will want to confirm your status as they start at 17 and go up to 20 for cut-offs depending on the state.
All riders must wear a helmet unless the speed and horsepower meet moped requirements
Mopeds are at or below 30 mph with the horsepower of 2 or less and a motor no larger than 50cc. Georgia and Vermont are in this zone.
All young riders must wear a helmet unless speed and horsepower requirements are met
Each of these states has different age cut-offs for a helmet from 17 through 20, and they have different designations for mopeds. For example, some want the horsepower under 1.5 while others have a 2-horsepower max. If you are in Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, you’ll want to confirm further for these moving targets.
- Missouri requires helmets for those 25 and younger unless you are riding a motorized bicycle that meets moped requirements. That bicycle terminology was a bit odd to me.
- New York requires helmets for all riders unless the speed has a max of 20mph. This is the lowest speed requirement in the country.
- South Carolina requires helmets for those 20 and younger unless they are riding motorized 3-wheel cycle. This is the only state with a 3 wheel designation in the regulations.
If you find yourself in the market for a scooter helmet, you’ll find a Complete Helmet Buying Guide here. If you just want a recommendation to get started, this is my favorite budget helmet at Revzilla: Bilt Force. If you have more to spend, here’s the one I’d spring for at Revzilla: Shoei RF1200.