UPDATE: We originally posted this article in February 2013 when the Maryland legislature was considering requiring most bicycle riders to wear helmets. However, the bill did not pass. Therefore, only riders who are younger than 16 are required to wear helmets. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, please contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, so we can evaluate your claim.
With thoughts moving toward spring and nicer weather, the Maryland legislature is considering whether to amend the current bicycle helmet law. Under the current law, bicycle riders and passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets (see Transportation Code 21-1207.1).
Current Maryland Bicycle Helmet Laws
Helmets must be worn by riders and passengers under age 16, when on public roads, bicycle paths or public property. They are also required for people under 16 on scooters and in-line skates.
Proposed Maryland Bicycle Helmet Legislation
Under the proposed rule, a helmet would be required by all bicyclists (and passengers, including children and people towed in trailers), regardless of age, when being used on property open to the public. The primary exception, oddly enough, continues to the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland. Also excluded are rickshaw passengers.
The proposed penalties for violation are, frankly, nonexistent. Violators would receive a warning and some educational materials. Lack of penalties makes this a law without teeth. At the very least, they should have nominal penalties associated with violations.
The type of helmet is also regulated—it must meet or exceed the standards of one of the following:
- American National Standards Institute
- Snell Memorial Foundation
- American Society for Testing and Materials
If the bill passes and is approved, it will go into effect on October 1, 2013.
Maryland Bicycle Accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safeway, in 2010 there were 616 bicyclist fatalities. Of those, 70% were not wearing helmets, and 15% were wearing helmets, and it is not known whether the other 15% were wearing helmets. A good summary of other bicycle accident statistics can be found here.
Because bicyclists are not protected by the metal shielding of a car, they are more susceptible to significant injuries and death when involved in auto accidents or falls. Certainly, contributory negligence can be a concern in some of these accidents, but a good lawyer should be able to tell you if a case is worth pursuing.
If you have questions after bicycle accident in Maryland or West Virginia, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-776-4529, or send us some brief information about your accident to us online. We can tell you about the current state of the law, and whether there is a chance for you to recover.
More Maryland Automobile Accident Information
- Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration: Summary of Current Bicycle Laws
- Maryland Bicycle Accidents
- Contributory Negligence
- Motorcycle Accidents