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What You Need to Know About Bicycle Helmet Laws in PA

Under Pennsylvania law, every child under the age of 12 must wear a helmet while operating a bike or riding as a passenger in a restraining seat or trailer. The fine for failing to wear a helmet is $25, but may be waived if the offending rider buys a helmet. The helmet must be a “good fit” and “fastened securely…with helmet straps.” It must also meet a nationally recognized standard for protective headgear used in cycling, such as those promoted by:

  • The American National Standards Institute
  • The American Society for Testing and Materials
  • The Snell Memorial Foundation

Children who can demonstrate that it is against the tenets of their religion to wear a helmet are exempt from the law.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, bicyclists face a greater risk of crash-related injury and death than do occupants of motor vehicles. Thus, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation urges everyone who rides a bicycle to wear an approved helmet.

Failure to wear a helmet cannot be used as evidence of negligence

Although failing to wear a helmet can hurt your head, it will not hurt your chances of winning a lawsuit. The law strictly prohibits a defendant in a lawsuit from trying to prove contributory negligence by introducing evidence that a rider was not wearing a helmet. For example, if a motorist hits you with his car, knocking you off your bike so you hit your head on the street, the driver cannot claim that you were partly responsible for your skull fracture and concussion. Even if the fact that you did not wear a helmet made your injuries worse, the court cannot reduce the amount of damages the defendant must pay based on the fact that you were not wearing a helmet. This also applies in cases of children who were unhelmeted in violation of the law.

Rudberg Law Offices, LLC represents injured bicyclists in Pittsburgh and throughout western Pennsylvania. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 412-488-6000 or contact our Pittsburgh office online.

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