Helmets: D.O.T. APPROVED HELMETS ARE REQUIRED IN GEORGIA
Georgia requires protective headgear for both passengers and riders of motorcycles and trikes, regardless of age or insurance coverage, unless they are riding within an enclosed cab. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) §40-6-315 (sections a and d):
(a) No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear, which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.
(d) The commissioner of public safety is authorized to approve or disapprove protective headgear and eye-protective devices required in this code section and to issue and enforce regulations establishing standards and specifications for the approval thereof. The commissioner shall publish lists of all protective headgear and eye-protective devices by name and type, which have been approved by it.
There is no list of approved protective headgear, so the statute must be interpreted by the rules and regulations created by the Georgia Board of Public Safety.
The standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. §571-218 (FMVSA Standard No. 218: Motorcycle Helmets) establish minimum performance requirements for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists and other motor vehicle users.
These standards include specific requirements for retention systems and straps, impact durability, penetration, coverage over the head and skull, rigid projections inside and outside the protective shell, labeling, size, and other factors.
The standards outline specific testing conditions and testing results in the areas of:
1. Impact Attenuation – where each helmet is tested at four sites, with two impacts at each site, two upon a flat anvil and two upon a hemispherical anvil.
2. Penetration – where each helmet, after Impact Attenuation testing, is subject to two penetration blows at least three inches apart and at least three inches away from the center of impact from the impact attenuation testing.
3. Retention Systems – where each helmet is placed on a stationary test head-form and the retaining straps are subject to a quasi-static tensile load.
Georgia’s helmet law has survived appeals court cases, though it does not give a precise description of protective headgear. The Georgia courts may decide if protective headgear equipment complies with the applicable standards (DOT).
Reverse trikes that are not equipped with an enclosed cab, and have steering wheels and side-by-side seating such as the Polaris Slingshot are considered motorcycles in Georgia and thus Georgia’s helmet law applies to them. Other states may have differing interpretations as to whether this unique type of vehicle falls under their helmet laws and we suggest that you independently research any state where you wish to operate this type of vehicle without using a helmet.