• Brad Keating

Tennessee Helmet Law

Motorcycle drivers are much more exposed to traffic accidents due to the vehicle's exposure to other vehicles, such as cars and trucks. A motorcycle is much lighter than the vehicles mentioned before, and they're not manufactured with the same safety standards.


Overall, a motorcycle rider is much more likely to suffer serious injuries after an accident in Tennessee, which is why it's important for them to comply with general Tennessee law regarding helmet usage. The Tennessee state is currently taking several motorcycle safety measures, and that includes the strict usage of a motorcycle helmet at all times. According to the Center for Disease Control, these laws help to save approximately 46 lives each year and millions in health care expenses.


Unfortunately, not all helmets are as efficient for preventing a motorcycle accident as others, so it's important for the driver to choose one that complies with what the Nashville injury law requires. Here's a general overview of the Tennessee motorcycle helmet laws.


What Are the Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

What Are the Tennessee Motorcycle Helmet Laws?


Generally speaking, all motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets at all times; this measure applies to both drivers and passengers. There are some exceptions to the rule in which the driver or passenger may not need to wear a particular helmet, such as motorcycles with an enclosed cab, a three-wheeled motorcycle, or bikes that weigh 1,500 pounds or less. Still, it's better to keep wearing a helmet in case a serious accident happens.


Other exemptions for helmet usage for motorcycle riders include the following:

  • Motorcycles in a funeral procession

  • Motorcycles in parades


These exemptions only apply if the riders are over 18 years of age and don't exceed a particular speed, which is 30 miles per hour in the case of a parade and 50 miles per hour in case of a procession or memorial ride. In case the driver is riding a motorcycle with three wheels, they're good to go too.


According to the Tennessee motorcycle helmet law, motorcycle helmets must comply with the following public safety requirements:

  • The helmet must be in perfect condition (no loose padding, cracks, or frayed straps)

  • The helmets must fit the drivers' heads perfectly

  • The helmet must have proper ventilation

  • The helmet must have a label that establishes that it complies with the helmet requirements from the Southern Impact Research Center, the Snell Memorial Foundation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or the American Society for Testing Materials

It's important to note that not wearing a helmet that complies with the Tennessee safety standards may be considered a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine. Additionally, motorcycle riders who are found not wearing helmets after an accident may be held liable for their injuries rather than the other drivers. In essence, if the driver doesn't wear a helmet, they may have a hard time collecting damages after an accident.


The Tennessee motorcycle helmet laws not only apply to motorcycles themselves; these laws also apply to motorized bicycles, motor-driven cycles, scooters, and more. According to Tennesee law, any vehicle with the following features is subject to the helmet law mentioned before:

  • Seat belt

  • Steering wheel

  • Similar safety standards as a regular motorcycle

  • Non-straddle seats


What Must a Motorcycle Have to Comply with the Tennessee Motorcycle Law?


Even if the drivers are wearing the right crash helmet that complies with the Snell Foundation guidelines or others in the Volunteer state, the motorcycle itself must also comply with some requirements before going on the road. If the driver fails to comply with these general motorcycle safety guidelines, they may be much more exposed to motorcycle accidents.


Additionally, the driver could suffer from serious injuries, including road rash, broken bones, scarring, disfigurement, and others. Here's a list of protective gear that can help you avoid most accidents while going in heavy traffic, according to Tennessee motorcycle accident law:


Motorcycle Jacket and Pants

While these items don't seem to be as protective as others, they can greatly help in making the injuries less severe after a motorcycle accident. High-quality jackets and pants can protect your skin if you slide on the pavement after the accident, whereas regular jeans or shirts can get easily shredded.


Motorcycle Boots

Having the right boots is essential while riding a motorcycle. Taking that into consideration, the riders must wear sturdy boots with ankle protection; otherwise, the riders' feet may be vulnerable in case the shoes fall off after the motorcycle accident.


Motorcycle Riding Gloves and Safety Glasses

Gloves can protect the riders' hands from serious fractures, considering most riders try to protect themselves from the crash with their hands. On the other hand, safety goggles protect the person's eyes from road debris or dirt, which can greatly impair their vision under certain circumstances.


Aside from the protective gear mentioned above, the motorcycle itself must have the following items so that it complies with Tennessee law:

  • Securely-attached footrests

  • Functioning horn

  • Muffler

  • Windshields (or safety glasses as an alternative)

  • Turning signals

  • Brake lights, taillights, and headlights

  • Rear and front brakes

  • Headlamp

  • Right and left mirrors

  • License plate

It's important to note that riders cannot have any passengers on the bike unless it has a proper passenger seat installed on it. Additionally, lane splitting isn't legal in Tennessee, so drivers may not do it to avoid traffic.


Do People In Tennessee Need a Motorcycle License to Ride a Bike According to the Motorcycle Helmet Law?


Yes. According to Tennessee guidelines and the motorcycle helmet laws, the rider must be at least 16 years old to operate this vehicle. Additionally, the person must have a motorcycle instruction permit or a Class M license; to obtain these permits, the driver must go through a knowledge and sign test, a vision screening, and an on-cycle ability skills test.


How Can a Driver Protect Themselves from Dangerous Accidents on the Road?


Aside from complying with every helmet requirement established by the Tennessee Code and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there are some additional things the driver can do to prevent some accidents while on the road:

  • Stick to the center or left part of the preferred lane instead of driving close to the shoulder

  • Wear a helmet whenever possible

  • Approach intersections slowly and carefully in case a small vehicle is coming from the other side

  • Ride in groups whenever possible and ensure that the other drivers are also compliant with the Tennessee motorcycle helmet laws

What Can a Motorcycle Driver Do After Sustaining an Accident?


As mentioned before, even if motorcycle drivers wear helmets and comply with all the motorcycle helmet laws in the state, they may still be exposed to certain accidents. In case the driver suffers a serious accident due to another driver's negligence, they could be entitled to receiving compensation for damages, including lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. Additionally, in wrongful death cases, the driver may also be entitled to coverage of funeral expenses, end-of-life care, and more.


In these cases, the driver needs to request help from a law office. A law firm can provide the accident victim with all the legal advice they may require to build a strong case that earns them the compensation they deserve. While some lawyers charge the victim for the case evaluation, other lawyers provide a free consultation where the victim can assess their legal rights.


A free case evaluation with a law firm typically starts with the victim filling out a contact form with basic contact information and details about the case. Once the lawyer gathers the data, they're going to contact the victim as soon as possible for the free consultation. Developing the right attorney-client relationship is the key to building a good case, which is why a good motorcycle accident law firm is going to do their best to contact the victim as soon as possible.


What Happens if the Rider Was Also at Fault for the Accident?

What Happens if the Rider Was Also at Fault for the Accident?


As mentioned before, proper helmet use is vital if the driver wants to avoid having any liability after an accident. If the driver didn't comply with the motorcycle helmet law (or the Tennessee Code in general), the Tennessee court could see that action as a negligence type known as "carelessness." There, the rider may not be awarded full compensation for all the damages sustained.


Still, not being compliant with the motorcycle helmet laws doesn't mean that the victim is going to have a weak case. If the victim works with the right attorney, they may be able to the right amount of compensation from the insurance company to cover most damages.


It's important to note that the only case in which the driver may not be able to recover money after an accident is when they're found 50% or more at fault. Insurance companies may try to blame the rider entirely regardless of the case so that they can pay less money to the victim, which is why it's so important to have a decent attorney.


Bottom Line


Biking accidents are not 100% avoidable, but as long as the victim complies with all the necessary guidelines from the Tennessee law, they're more likely to build a stronger case with a lawyer after an accident.


As mentioned before, many law firms offer a free case evaluation to their potential clients to optimize the process. Additionally, some of these firms also provide helpful links with additional information about what to do in these cases, which is a bonus for the victim.


For more legal information regarding Tennessee laws such as the legality of CBD oil, read more of our blogs.