Mopeds have been around for quite a long time, giving people the option of commuting without spending a pile of cash on fuel costs and as an easier way to meander through traffic.
All sounds good but at the end of the day, do you have to wear a helmet on a moped? Surely what amounts to the equivalent of a motorized bicycle is reasonably safe to ride without a helmet.
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Like a motorcycle or even a bicycle, you may have spent some time wondering if purchasing a moped means wearing one of those little helmets that look like someone is going to blast you out of a circus cannon.
What is a Moped?
Once upon a time, someone decided to combine the word “motorcycle” and the word “pedal” and gave the world what was probably their only contribution, the moped. A moped is not the same thing as a scooter and, in terms of what it is and does, typically has a 50cc engine and goes no faster than 30mph.
In other words, you won’t break any speeding laws with a moped, unless you put the pedal to the metal in a grocery store parking lot, which we strongly advise you not to do. Mopeds are great little modes of transportation, however, especially for those with short commutes and for those that want to save on gas.
Do You Have To Wear A Helmet On A Moped?
That largely depends on what state or what country you live in. In the United States, Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire have no helmet laws for riding mopeds. That includes young riders, many of whom think they are invincible, but the law (or lack thereof) is what it is in those three states.
In 18 states, plus Washington D.C., all riders are required to wear helmets on a moped. That includes Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
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Outside of that, it largely depends on what state you are in. You may also find that in the US, there are certain counties or cities that require helmets on mopeds, motorcycles, ATVs, and other vehicles, while the state may not.
That’s why it’s a little difficult to track down exact moped helmet laws in the US, since everything from the city up to the federal level is almost like its own little republic, with legislatures, town commissions, etc.
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While these cities, counties, and districts cannot make laws that violate state or federal laws, that doesn’t stop them from enacting small-scale legislation that prohibits certain activities or requires protection for other activities.
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Georgia and Vermont get a little more specific about it, requiring only riders who ride a moped to wear helmets. Other vehicles, that might look like a moped but don’t meet the specific requirements for what these states define as a moped, don’t require a helmet.
Moped Helmet Laws
In the US, everything is determined at the state level, with moped helmet laws a reflection of that state’s legislation. But what about the UK and Australia? It’s not as if these are the only countries out there but these are two, distinct countries that have a robust set of laws and ordinances when it comes to vehicular safety.
While the law isn’t clear insofar as off-roads or back roads are concerned, UK laws stipulate that you must wear a helmet if you ride a moped, scooter, or motorcycle on the ‘highway’. The only exception is if you are a follower of the Sikh religion and wearing a Turban.
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Outside of that, the UK requires it and is pretty stringent about it for just about anything that you can ride on two wheels.
In Australia, it is against the law to ride a moped without an approved helmet. The helmet has to conform to Australia’s listed standards, which are AS/NZS 1698, or to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation #22 (ECE 22.05).
Both of these standards cover a wide range of helmets, whether you are on a motorcycle, moped, scooter, or ATV. These standards are recognized widely throughout European countries and are fairly stringent standards.
All Things Considered
Of all areas in the world, the United States is probably the most complicated in terms of whether or not you have to wear a helmet while riding a moped. That is only because there are so many different authorities and legislative bodies at so many different levels.
If you don’t want to wear a helmet on your moped, you need to pack your bags and head on out to Iowa, Illinois, or New Hampshire. At least, that is, until those three states catch up to everyone else.