Montana Motorcycle Helmet Laws: What You Need to Know
Each year as the weather warms up, thousands of motorcycle riders across the country dust off their bikes and hit the road to enjoy the spring and summer months. As more motorcycle operators appear on Montana streets, it’s important for everyone to be familiar with state motorcycle laws.
Helmet use is one of the most important factors impacting motorcycle accident injury and fatality rates. Montana, like most other states in the nation, has laws regarding the use of protective headgear while driving or riding on motorcycles.
Montana Helmet Law FAQs
What is Montana’s motorcycle helmet law?
Montana state law requires that all motorcycle operators and passengers under 18 years of age wear a helmet approved by the state’s Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation.
While helmets are not required for adults, it’s a good idea for all motorcycle riders to wear protective headgear. Head injuries are some of the most common (and often most fatal) wounds that motorcycle accident victims suffer.
Additionally, if you are injured in a motorcycle accident when not wearing a helmet, it could damage your injury case. The at-fault party’s insurance company may try to argue that you failed to protect yourself from injury. An attorney can help you understand whether you have a case and what damages you may be able to seek.
What kind of helmet is required in Montana?
DOT-approved helmets must have the following:
- Sturdy chin strap
- Stiff foam inner liner
- Hard outer layer
The safest helmets are full-face helmets, which protect the wearer’s chin and jaw. Many of them also have eye shields.
Open-face helmets protect the head and ears, but lack chin protection.
What is the penalty for breaking Montana’s motorcycle helmet law?
Riding or operating a motorcycle as a minor without an approved helmet can result in traffic citations and fines.
What are universal helmet laws?
Some states have mandatory helmet laws for all motorcycle riders, regardless of age. These states include Nebraska, New York, Alabama, and California.
Michigan had a universal helmet law until 2012, when it was repealed. After repealing the law, the state saw a 14% increase in motorcycle accident-related head injuries.
Only three states have no helmet requirements whatsoever: Illinois, New Hampshire, and Iowa.
Montana Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- From 2011-2020, Montana saw an average of 444 motorcycle accidents each year
- On average, 23 people die in motorcycle accidents in the state each year
- Men make up nearly 90% of motorcycle accident fatalities in Montana
Common motorcycle accident injuries
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Broken teeth
- Eye injuries
- Road rash
- Sprains and strains
Motorcycle Safety Guidelines
What other safety equipment should motorcycle riders wear?
You can protect yourself in the event of an accident by committing to wear proper safety gear whenever you ride. The following gear is recommended for all motorcycle operators and passengers:
- Eye protection, such as goggles, glasses, or a face shield
- Jacket and pants made from leather or other protective material
- Sturdy boots
Is lane splitting legal in Montana?
Lane splitting is the practice of motorcycles riding the dotted line between two lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction. In recent years, more states have legalized lane splitting and filtering in an effort to alleviate traffic problems.
In Montana, motorcyclists are permitted to filter between stopped or slow-moving vehicles at speeds of no more than 20 miles per hour. Motorcycle riders should use discretion when filtering; the lanes must be wide enough to do so safely.
How can drivers of other motor vehicles help protect motorcyclists?
Keeping our roads safe for everyone is a shared responsibility. Each driver must obey local laws and treat other motorists with respect to prevent accidents. Drivers of passenger cars and trucks can help keep motorcyclists safe by committing to the following:
- Check your blind spots twice before turning left or changing lanes
- Give motorcyclists plenty of space when passing or following
- Allow motorcyclists full use of a lane
- Drive as predictably as possible
When Should I Contact a Montana Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, it may be time to call a personal injury lawer. It’s easy to become confused or overwhelmed during the claims process, and an attorney can help protect your rights.
The Montana motorcycle accident lawyers with The Advocates are here for you. We will help you access the medical care you need, find a repair shop for your motorcycle, and get the settlement you deserve under Montana law.
The Advocates have been representing injury victims for more than 30 years, so we understand the struggles you are facing. We know that every injury case is different, so we will be there to listen to you and meet your individual needs.