Illinois Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Do You Have to Wear a Helmet in Illinois?
Currently, Illinois is one of the few remaining states that has yet to implement a motorcycle helmet law. For years, the lack of an Illinois motorcycle helmet law has been a point of contention among liberty-minded folks and motorcycle safety advocacy organizations in the state. As you can see from this map, the lack of a helmet law in Illinois makes this state stand out from most others that enforce motorcycle helmet safety law.
To see one effect of motorcycle helmet laws, it’s useful to take a look at another Midwest state. Michigan relaxed its motorcycle helmet laws in 2012, and the state has seen a drastic increase in health-care costs associated with injured riders as a result. For more than 40 years, Michigan required that all riders wear a helmet, and before the law was amended, the average claim for an injured biker was about $5,410. After the amended law went into force, the average claim for injured riders rose to about $7,257. It is clear that insurance companies stand to benefit from weak or nonexistent motorcycle helmet injury laws.
Illinois’ History of Motorcycle Helmet Laws
The Illinois legislature adopted a motorcycle helmet law in 1968. However, the law was later overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court as an “unconstitutional abuse of police power” in the case of People v. Fries. The issue was again raised in 2009 in the Illinois Senate. Motorcyclists would have been required to wear helmets with chin straps under this law, but the measure was ultimately rejected. Today, Illinois continues to remain without a motorcycle helmet law in force.
Benefits of Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Research studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that motorcycle helmet laws have a powerful impact on prevention of injures for riders on the road. The CDC has found that states with helmet laws have a usage rate that is almost at 100 percent.
Motorcycle drivers are at a decreased risk of suffering from head injuries when they use helmets, and the CDC has found that states with motorcycle helmet laws have a tendency to enjoy greater health-care savings as a result. For instance, California was able to save more than $394 million in health-care costs due to its universal motorcycle helmet law, which applies to all riders on the road. Meanwhile, New Mexico has a partial motorcycle helmet law, and it enjoyed a savings of just $2.6 million in health-care costs after its enactment.
States that have universal motorcycle helmet laws also have a much lower rate of death for drivers involved in accidents. Only 12 percent of motorcycle operators who died in crashes were not wearing helmet at the time of the accident in states with these laws, research has shown. In states that do not have universal helmet laws, more than 64 percent of drivers involved in crashes died.
Nineteen states currently have a universal helmet law. This means that all motorcycle drivers on the road must wear a helmet regardless of their age.
Arguments Against Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Illinois
The states that do not currently have motorcycle helmet laws include Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire. The riders in these states who do not want these laws are often liberty-minded and argue that it should be a choice to wear a helmet or refrain from wearing one.
Those who are on the opposite side of the debate cite the increased health-care costs, increased fatality rates, and increased injury rates as pointing to the need for helmet laws. Advocates for highway safety believe that motorcycle helmet laws contribute to reduced fatality rates on the roads and also help prevent serious head injuries in victims involved in motorcycle accidents.
Speak With Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you were injured as a result of involvement in a motorcycle accident, then you may be eligible to receive damages in your case. Even if you were not wearing a helmet, this does not preclude you from being able to get compensation. In fact, the lack of an Illinois motorcycle helmet law may actually work in your favor and ensure that you have the right to receive damages. An experienced Illinois motorcycle accident lawyer is ready to take a look at your case and help you understand the legal remedies available to you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.