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Motorcyclist Without Helmet Dies: A Closer Look at Florida Helmet Laws

Thursday afternoon, Jimmy Ray Gay was killed when a sports utility vehicle slammed into him while he rode his motorcycle on Hillsborough Avenue near Plant City. Gay, 53 years old, was from Conyers Georgia. Troopers reported that he was headed westbound just before 4:00 p.m. on his 2007 Harley Davidson as a 2006 GMC Envoy approached from the East. 20 year old Julia Lopez of Plant city, the driver of the Envoy, swerved into westbound lanes to avoid traffic that was slowing ahead of her. At that point in time her Envoy collided head on with the motorcycle driven by Jimmy Ray Gay.

At the time of collision, Gay was not wearing a helmet. He was immediately taken to South Florida Baptist Hospital, where he subsequently died. This crash is currently still under investigation according to Florida Troopers.

Currently, states that implement a universal helmet law report that twelve percent of motorcyclists fatally injured were not wearing helmets. Motorcycle riders are about 26 times more likely to die in a collision than passengers in an automobile. So why is it so frequently reported that motorcyclists, such as Gay, were fatally injured in a collision and not wearing a helmet at the time of collision? What is the current legislation pertaining to motorcycle helmet safety? We at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, in light of the tragic death of Mr. Gay, want to take a moment to give you some information about the current helmet laws in Florida. Regardless of the current laws, we encourage all riders to exercise caution on the roadways and to wear protective headgear at all times. Helmets save lives, and even if you are not required to wear one, it should still be considered as a life saving safety precaution.

Currently, Florida motorcyclists are required to wear helmets if they are under the age of twenty one. However, those over the age of twenty one and who have at least ten thousand dollars in medical insurance coverage are allowed to operate a motorcycle without a protective safety helmet. Keep in mind, however, that it is not enough to just wear a helmet if you are uninsured and/or under 21. The helmet you wear must conform to certain standards to be considered adequate protection under Florida law. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles publishes an approved motorcycle helmet list.

A passenger doesn’t have to be separately insured if covered under the driver’s policy. For example, as part of a family plan. If a passenger is not covered by such a plan, however, he or she must carry insurance for the proper amount or wear a helmet. If you’re under 21, a helmet is mandatory regardless.

A violation of the helmet law is treated as a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a non-moving violation. The federal government encourages strict enforcement of helmet laws, because wearing a helmet can actually decrease the risk of death by nearly thirty seven percent! According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, riders operating a motorcycle without a helmet triple the risk of being killed or incurring a traumatic brain injury in road collision.

Today, universal helmet laws require all motorcyclists to wear a helmet while riding. 19 states and the District of Columbia currently enforce universal helmet laws. Three states currently have no helmet legislation. The remaining 28 states have legislation that is similar to Florida.

If you have been injured in a collision on or with a motorcycle, let the experienced a skilled attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA help you get the compensation for your injuries that you deserve. Give us a call today for a no cost no obligation consultation at your convenience. (727) 451-6900.