If you are riding a motorcylcle in Florida, you might not have to wear a helmet. In 2000, Florida changed its helmet law to exclude riders who are 21 or older and have an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle. All riders who are younger than 21 or do not have insurance must still wear a helmet. This goes for when you’re driving the motorcycle as well as when you’re just the passenger.
A violation of the helmet law is punishable as a nonmoving traffic violation. But some argue the consequences could be much more dire. An evaluation of the Florida law change by NHTSA found that motorcyclist deaths per 10,000 motorcycle registrations increased 21 percent during the two years after the law was changed compared with the two years before. Others say that it is a matter of personal choice and you should be able to ride without a helmet as an adult in this still free country. Florida seems to have a compromise. If you’re 21 or older with at least $10,000 of medical insurance coverage you don’t have to wear a helmet. You may be safer if you do, but are you less free if you are forced to? We suspect with the mandatory seatbelt laws in Florida and the controversies over universal healthcare that the arguments will heat up again. Just don’t ask me to take sides on this one!