The State of Rhode Island’s lawmakers have enacted numerous laws to regulate motorcycle operation. These RI laws protect motorcycle operators and other motorists. However, It appears that the motorcycle helmet safety laws in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations are merely lip stick on a pig and do very little to protect motorcyclists and their passengers.
Perhaps the most controversial and well known RI statute is the motorcycle helmet law. In Rhode Island only motorcyclists under the age of 21 and new operators are required to wear protective motorcycle helmet! Helmet law
Helmet laws and motorcycle accident
This ineffective and non-comprehensive, Ocean State biker law makes little sense to RI Personal Injury Attorneys who see fatal bike accidents as well as chopper accidents causing traumatic brain injury on a day to day basis. Many of these motorcycle accident fatalities and serious injuries could have been prevented by the injured victim wearing a helmet. This law makes little to no sense since only a small subset of the motorcyclists are required to wear protective helmets according to the law!
Some believe that states should require that all motorcyclists and passengers wear helmets. Opponents, who are typically fervent motorcycle enthusiasts, are zealously opposed to such regulation over their lives. They believe government should not interfere with their personal liberty especially their motorcycle freedoms.
Fatal motorcycle accident in RI
Proponents of stricter motorcycle helmet laws cite the likelihood of a motorcycle crash in RI causing death or serious injury. These people often refer to statistics which indicate that helmets can save lives and prevent traumatic head and brain injury(TBI). These proponents say that even if a motorcycle can save one person from being killed in a deadly / fatal bike crash it is well worth enacting such common sense regulations
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.” NTSB “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.” Id.
Rhode Island Motorcycle Accident personal injury attorneys generally believe that motorcycle helmets are a common sense solution to prevent wrongful death, paralysis and other serious injuries. However, it is not Providence Personal Injury lawyers and a RI Motorcycle accident lawyer and wrongful death lawyers in RI who makes the laws and influence legislators.
The RI motorcycle helmet law is set forth below and can be found here
31-10.1-4. “. . . Any operator under the age of twenty-one (21) shall wear a helmet of a type approved by the administrator of motor vehicles. In addition, all new operators, regardless of age, shall be required, for a period of one year from the date of issuance of the first license pursuant to s 31-10.1-1, to wear a helmet of a type approved by said administrator.” Motorcycle rights
Here is a nice explanation of the various laws across the United states concerning handlebar height:
Rhode Island handlebar law
§ 31-10.1-5 Handlebars. – No person shall operate on a highway or in any parking area for ten (10) or more motor vehicles, any motorcycle, motor scooter, or motor driven cycle equipped with handlebars that are more than fifteen inches (15″) in height above the uppermost portion of the seat when depressed by the weight of the operator. Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.
Connecticut has a similar law “Connecticut law prohibits a motorcycle from having handlebars that are higher than 15 inches above the uppermost portion of the seat when it is depressed by the weight of the operator” CT GOV Alabama, Alaska and Georgia and Hawaii and a total of approximately 18 states have similar 15 inch maximum restrictions.
RI laws pertaining to motorcycle operation
§ 31-10.1-6 Passengers. – Any passenger on a motorcycle, motor scooter, or motor-driven cycle must be provided with a separate rear seat, a separate foot-rest, and an appropriate handlebar or grip for his or her use, and must wear a properly fitting helmet of a type approved by the administrator of the division of motor vehicles. No person shall operate a motorcycle, motor scooter, or motor-driven cycle unless any passenger on it wears a helmet and is able to rest his or her feet upon a foot-rest. Any passenger on a motorcycle, motor scooter, or motor-driven cycle under twelve (12) years of age must have a properly secured back-rest or equivalent, shall have his or her feet placed upon the foot-rest, and shall be seated behind the operator unless a side car is provided. When, however, a side car is provided this age requirement shall not apply to any passenger(s) in the sidecar. Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE31/31-10.1/31-10.1-6.HTM
“§ 31-10.1-7 Inspection. – Every motorcycle, motor scooter, or motor driven cycle shall be inspected in accordance with the law providing for inspection of motor vehicles and shall display a certificate of inspection as provided in chapter 38 of this title. Inspection standards for the motor vehicles shall be established by the administrator of the division of motor vehicles. Inspection stations shall be specially licensed to inspect motorcycles, motor scooters, and motor-driven cycles. Certificates of inspection for these vehicles shall be clearly distinguishable from those issued to other motor vehicles. Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.”
“§ 31-10.1-4 Required equipment. – Operators of motorcycles, motor scooters, and motor-driven cycles shall use eye protection of a type approved by the administrator of the division of motor vehicles when operating their vehicles on streets and highways. Every motorcycle, motor scooter, and motor-driven cycle shall be equipped with a rear view mirror. Any operator under the age of twenty-one (21) shall wear a helmet of a type approved by the administrator of motor vehicles. In addition, all new operators, regardless of age, shall be required, for a period of one year from the date of issuance of the first license pursuant to § 31-10.1-1, to wear a helmet of a type approved by said administrator. Any person deemed in violation of this provision shall be subject to the fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4, which shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of chapter 41.1 of this title. The administrator of the division of motor vehicles is authorized to set forth rules and regulations governing the use of other equipment on those vehicles. All fines collected under this section shall be deposited in a general restricted receipt account for the use of the Rhode Island governor’s office on highway safety in order to promote educational and informational programs encouraging helmet use.”
“§ 31-45-1 Noise limits. – (a) No person shall operate a motor vehicle, nor shall the owner of any vehicle allow the vehicle to be operated, at any time, or under any condition of grade, load, acceleration, or deceleration, in such a manner as to exceed the following noise limit based on a distance of fifty feet (50′) from the center of the lane of travel within the speed limit. For the purposes of this section, “dbA” means decibels measured with a calibrated sound level meter weighted to the “A” scale.
(b) In speed zones of thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph) or less, not more than eighty-six (86) dbA. In speed zones of more than thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph), not more than ninety (90) dbA.
(c) Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.”