What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Tennessee

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What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Tennessee

Stillman & Friedland

2 min read

Motorcycle riders are more likely to suffer injuries or worse in an accident. Wearing a helmet while operating a motorcycle can drastically reduce the severity of injuries. That is why it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Tennessee, according to both federal and state regulations. Adhering to Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet laws may be a key factor in receiving the compensation you are entitled to if you are injured in a motorbike accident. Here is what you need to know about Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet laws.

Who Must Wear Motorcycle Helmets in Tennessee?

Tennessee state law requires all operators of motorbikes, motorized bicycles, and motor-driven cycles to wear a helmet that meets federal standards. Passengers must also wear helmets. Riders under 21 and those 21 and older have slightly different requirements.

Who is Exempt From the Motorcycle Helmet Law in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, the following circumstances do not require wearing a motorcycle helmet:

  • When traveling inside a cab.
  • When riding fully enclosed autocycles. An autocycle is a three-wheeled motorbike that complies with federal safety regulations for motorcycles by having safety belts, a steering wheel, and non-straddle seating.
  • When riding golf carts.
  • A rider at least 18 years old and participating in a parade traveling no faster than 30 mph.
  • When driving a vehicle in a funeral procession, memorial ride, or corpse escort detail that is being escorted by law enforcement, as long as the driver is at least 21 years old, does not exceed 30 mph, and the funeral procession, memorial ride, or body escort detail does not go more than 50 miles.

Helmet Requirements in Tennessee

Riders aged 21 and over must wear a helmet that meets the safety regulations of the State of Tennessee and federal government. The helmet must:

  • Have ventilation airways with a maximum diameter of 112 inches.
  • Have no hard projections outside the protective shell, except for those necessary for the operation of critical accessories.
  • Fit snugly around the head, though it does not need to have a continuous curve.
  • Have a label stating that it meets the standards of the Snell Foundation, the American Society for Testing Materials, the Southern Impact Research Center, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For riders under 21, the rules are stricter. Exemptions such as non-continuous contours and ventilation passageways that extend through the helmet’s shell do not apply.


Don’t become a statistic. Follow Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet laws to stay safe! If you or someone you care about has been in an accident in Tennessee, call our Nashville office at 615-244-2111 for a free, confidential consultation. We’ll review your case at no cost to you. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay anything unless we get a settlement or jury award for you.

Stay safe out there.

Because we care…

Stillman & Friedland Attorneys