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Do you have to wear a motorcycle helmet in South Carolina?

Motorcycle helmet laws are a controversial topic among bikers. Some believe the laws are protective, whereas others believe they infringe on personal rights. There is no federal law on the matter. Each state sets its own regulations concerning helmet use.

With many motorcycle rallies happening in South Carolina, it is important you become familiar with the state's laws on motorcycle helmets before you visit.

State law for wearing a motorcycle helmet

In South Carolina, only those who are under 21 years old must wear a helmet. This applies whether the person is the operator or a passenger. The helmet has to have a chin or neck strap, reflective sides and approval by the Department of Public Safety (look for a sticker). Riders in this age group must also use goggles or a face shield. Anyone who is of legal drinking age or older has the personal choice whether or not to use this protective head gear.

Benefits of wearing a motorcycle helmet

You may not like to wear a helmet, but you may want to rethink your stance based on data. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, helmets prevent brain injuries 67% of the time and death 37% of the time. Helmet use is low among riders in no-law or partial-law states (like South Carolina), with passengers having the lowest rates.

Whether you are from in or out of state, wearing a helmet will only work in your favor. Many tourists, local drivers and teens will be on the road in the summer, many of whom may be distracted, drunk or aggressive.

Your best defense is wearing safety gear even if it is not mandatory by law. This includes not only helmets but also boots, gloves and clothing to prevent or reduce the severity of injuries. Also, make sure your motorcycle is visible and get a tune-up before hitting the road to travel to the rallies.

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