It’s no secret that Wisconsinites love to ride. Wisconsin has the 4th highest motorcycle ownership in the country per capita with 1 in 18 residents owning at least one motorcycle. Winding county roads, the Kettle Moraine Zig Zag, the Driftless Area and countless miles of shoreline provide excellent routes for serious riders and weekend warriors alike. If you or a loved one owns a motorcycle, you should be aware of the applicable laws intended to maintain road safety.
Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state and generally fall into one of three categories. Three states have no helmet laws, eighteen states require helmets for all motorcycle riders, and twenty-nine states (including Wisconsin) only require helmets for certain riders.
The Wisconsin motorcycle helmet law is called the “partial helmet law” and requires individuals who are under 18 years old, and individuals who are driving a motorcycle with an instructional permit regardless of age, to wear a helmet with a chin strap that is properly fastened. The law applies to both operators and passengers of a motorcycle.
The law also requires all motorcycle operators, regardless of age or license status, to have suitable eye protection. A motorcycle with a windshield that rises at least 15 inches above the handlebars qualifies as eye protection under the statute. Without such a windshield, riders are required to wear a protective face shield, glasses, or goggles.
As the weather gets warm, it is important to be aware of these laws and to implement safe practices when riding a motorcycle. Despite the fact that the total number of motorcycle accidents reduced year-over-year from 2016 to 2019, the number of motorcycle accident fatalities increased over the same period. Additionally, over 90% of motorcycle accidents from 2014 to 2019 resulted in injury – more than four times the rate at which automobile accidents result in injury.
Motorcycle accidents are often caused by negligent automobile drivers who are inattentive and fail to keep a proper lookout for the motorists around them. Wearing a helmet is one of the best ways to reduce the chances of suffering serious injury when riding a motorcycle. Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Motorcyclists’ Handbook provides detailed instructions and expectations relating to the safe operation of motorcycles and is an essential resource for new and experienced bikers alike.
If you or a loved one become injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Walden Neitzke & Kuhary, S.C. Our attorneys have an extensive track record of obtaining optimal case outcomes for our clients. We are here when you are hurt.