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Am I Legally Required to Wear a Helmet or Protective Gear on a Motorcycle in Colorado?

Every state has different motorcycle helmet and protective gear laws. As a motorcyclist in Colorado, you need to understand and obey the state’s helmet laws – whether you are a resident or just passing through. Even if state law does not make wearing a helmet mandatory, however, it is always wise to do so, as a helmet can minimize your injuries and potentially save your life in a motorcycle accident.

Are Motorcycle Helmets Required in Colorado?

Yes and no. Motorcycle helmets are universally required for riders and passengers under the age of 18 in Colorado. Adult riders who are 18 and older, however, are not legally required to wear helmets or protective headgear. Unlike some states, Colorado does not base its motorcycle helmet requirements on the amount of personal injury insurance carried by the motorcyclist. The helmet requirement is only based on the age of the motorcycle operator and his or her passengers.

How Do Helmets Help Motorcycle Riders?

Wearing a helmet is the number one way to reduce your risk of a serious or fatal head injury in a motorcycle accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,872 lives in a single year – and that an additional 749 lives would have been saved had the riders been wearing helmets. Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by about 69 percent. They are also around 37 percent effective in preventing fatal motorcycle accident injuries to operators (41 percent for passengers).

Motorcycle helmets work by cushioning a bump or blow to the head and skull in a motorcycle crash. Without the protective metal shell, seat belt or airbags that are available in a traditional motor vehicle, a motorcyclist is highly susceptible to serious head and brain injuries. Many riders and their passengers strike their skulls on vehicles, objects or the asphalt in collisions. When wearing a helmet, these impacts are less likely to be catastrophic or fatal in nature.

When wearing a helmet, a motorcyclist’s head is not the first thing that comes into contact with an object or road surface. Instead, it is the shock-absorbing cushion of a helmet that has been designed to protect the head, face and neck. The plastic outer shell of a motorcycle helmet reduces the probability of your head and neck being bounced or jerked around by minimizing friction. Meanwhile, the interior foam of the helmet protects against blunt-force trauma to the skull that can result in a serious traumatic brain injury.

What Is the Eye Protection Law in Colorado?

Even if a helmet is not required of a motorcyclist or passenger in Colorado, all riders must wear some form of eye protection. Eye protection is critical for a motorcyclist, as without it, insects, dust, dirt or debris could fly into the eyes of the motorcyclist and cause an accident. The safest form of eye protection is the visor attached to most motorcycle helmets. However, other forms of eye protection are also acceptable in Colorado, such as riding goggles or glasses with safety lenses. State law does not view a windshield as adequate eye protection for a motorcycle rider or passenger.

If I Did Not Wear a Motorcycle Helmet & Was Involved in an Accident – Can My Claim Be Impacted?

If you were not required by Colorado law to wear a motorcycle helmet at the time of your accident, the at-fault driver or party will not be able to use this fact against you. Previous cases in Colorado have ruled that with no state law requiring helmet use, there is no applicable standard of conduct for a rider – and, therefore, no defense available that alleges the rider breached his or her duty of care by not wearing one. 

The helmet defense may be used against you, however, if you were under the age of 18 and legally required to wear a helmet in Colorado, but illegally were riding without one at the time of your crash. If you get injured in a motorcycle helmet with or without a helmet on, contact an attorney at Cannon Law about your legal rights.