Motorcycle Helmet Laws UK 2021 | Standards, Policies and Guide

Motorcycles have been around since the 1800s, and approximately 200 million motorcycles are in use throughout the world. However, riding a motorcycle is safe only when you wear protective equipment like a helmet as per the law.

In this article, we will look at the importance and types of motorcycle helmets which are a piece of essential protective equipment. Moreover, we will discuss the laws related to motorcycle helmet throughout the world, and motorcycle helmet laws UK in specific.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws UK

Lastly, you will get to know a few tips which will help you in choosing the right helmet and making your riding experience safer. Let us jump right in!

What are motorcycle helmets?

A motorcycle helmet is a type of helmet worn by motorcycle riders. Its primary purpose is the rider’s safety as wearing it protects his/her head during an impact.

Therefore, wearing a helmet can help reduce or prevent serious head injuries and save the wearer’s life in case of severe accidents.

Why are they important?

As per recent statistics, motorcyclists represent only 1% of road traffic. Nevertheless, 19% of casualties are related to motorcycle accidents. Additionally, around 70% of serious injuries caused by such accidents involve head injuries.

So, safety measures must be taken when riding a motorcycle and helmets must be worn for protection of the head as per the motorcycle helmet laws in UK.

Motorcycle helmet laws throughout the world:

According to Global Health Observatory, wearing a helmet reduces the chance of death in motorcycle accidents by 40%. Similarly, it decreases the risk of a severe head injury by 70%.

Around 71% of countries in the world have detailed helmet laws. These require both the rider and the passengers to wear a helmet while riding two-wheelers. Nonetheless, many countries lack helmet standards, and this lessens the effectiveness of helmet-related laws.

The findings show that only 40% of countries have comprehensive helmet laws, paired with the safety standards which must be met by the helmets.  

When did it become a law to wear motorcycle helmets in the UK?

Wearing a motorcycle helmet became law in the UK on 7th February 1973. Now, it is a legal requirement and applies to both the rider and the pillion passengers.

Moreover, this law also requires a helmet to meet or exceed British safety standards.

Motorcycle helmet laws in the UK:

All the helmets sold in the UK must meet the following regulations:

  1. British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
  2. UNECE Regulation 22.05
  3. Any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area offering at least the same safety as BS 6658:1985 and carrying a mark equal to BSI Kitemark

Types of helmets:

Below is a list of different types of motorcycle helmets:

  1. Full face: A full-face helmet covers the entire head, providing maximum protection to the rider’s head
  2. Off-road/motocross: The partially open face of this helmet allows for an increased airflow
  3. Open face: This type of helmet covers back of the head, ears, and cheeks. Open face helmets are widely used in every country of the world by motorcyclists.
  4. Flip-flop: This is a mixture of full face and open face helmets. Closing it makes it look like a full-face helmet while opening it allows access to most of the face
  5. Half helmet: It is similar to the open face helmet, but has a lowered rear

Which helmet is the right choice?

The effectiveness of motorcycle helmets in reducing head injuries partly depends on the quality of helmets. Therefore, it is essential to buy a helmet which meets the recognized safety standards.

To help the riders in choosing the right helmet, the UK Department of Transport launched the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) in 2007. SHARP conducted research related to the levels of helmet safety across the UK with two objectives.

The first objective was related to clear advice for selecting the helmet, which fits correctly and is comfortable. The second one was about providing objective information, comparing the protection offered by helmets available in the UK.

The helmet one should go for should be rigid in construction and the helmet should last a long life perfectly.

So, if you are looking for a new helmet, use the SHARP rating system to help you decide on a high-quality motorcycle helmet.

Some tips for the motorcyclists:

So far, we have looked at the importance, types, and laws related to motorcycle helmets in the UK. Now, let us go through some tips which will make your motorcycle rides safer:

  • Always buy a new helmet if the existing one has been damaged. It is important to remember that not every damage would be visible to the naked eye. So, if the helmet has received any damaging impact, go for a new one
  • Do not go for a secondhand helmet as you might not be able to judge the quality of the protective material just by looking at it
  • While riding in the dark or conditions of poor visibility, avoid wearing visors, goggles, or tinted glasses and other helmet accessories like these
  • If you have weak eyesight, make sure that you wear glasses or contact lenses
  • While buying the protective motorcycle clothing, go for additional protection for knees, shoulders, hips, back, and elbows
  • For the protection of hands, always wear high-quality gloves
  • Choose the right footwear! Look for the boots which would protect your shin, heel, and ankle
  • For improving visibility in the dark, it is important to wear reflective clothing or stripes. Doing so will make you more visible from a longer distance

Also check our detailed article about the Helmet laws in US States Australia and Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Conclusion: Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Standards UK

Motorcycle helmets protect the motorcycle riders from head injuries which may result from accidents. Motorcycle helmet laws in the UK require both the rider and the pillion passengers to wear a helmet.

However, the helmets must meet the safety standards. They should be worn correctly and must be comfortable. When buying a helmet, it is advised to use the SHARP rating system for choosing the best available helmet.

Have a safe riding experience!

Leave a Comment