Ask a Trooper: Why is wearing helmets not a law?

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Question: As we are ending the motorcycle season I heard of an individual near Rochester, Minnesota, whom was killed by going off the road and struck a sign head on. He was not wearing a helmet.

Being an individual whom has been in a motorcycle accident with the helmet likely saving my life, why are helmets not required in the State of Minnesota for all two and three wheel bikes?

Answer: There is not a helmet law in Minnesota, unless the operator is under 18 years of age or is operating with a permit. Even though there is no helmet law, it is recommended that one is worn to help prevent serious injury or death.

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The benefits helmets offer are clear; they protect the head in the event of a crash. In 2018, only 16 (28 percent) of the 58 motorcycle riders killed were known to be wearing a helmet. Of the 913 motorcyclists injured, only 416 (46 percent) were known to be wearing a helmet.

In 2018, 550 (55 percent) motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes. In these crashes, the factors that reporting officers list most often are run off road (14 percent), careless/negligent/erratic driving (13 percent) and driver speeding (9 percent).

Just under half of all motorcycle crashes involve a collision with another vehicle. In many crashes, the driver never saw the motorcyclist — or did not see the rider until it was too late.

It is important for everyone to pay attention and avoid all distractions while driving. We need to be 100 percent attentive when driving any type of motor vehicle.

I have investigated far too many serious injury and fatal motorcycle crashes where a helmet could have made a difference. My advice is to always wear an approved helmet, along with proper high visible clothing to help reduce injury if involved in a crash.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,