Are Bike Helmets Required in California?

Bicycle Accidents | April 8, 2024

Helmets save bicyclists’ lives. Helmets are so effective at preventing external head trauma, brain injuries, and death that many states or municipalities around the country have mandated helmet usage. Information provided by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) states that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 48% and the risk of traumatic brain injury by 53%. Additionally, helmets significantly reduce the risk of facial injuries and fatal injuries.

However, what does California require when it comes to bicycle helmets? Any bicyclist 18 years of age or older is not required to wear a helmet, but safety experts strongly encourage all riders to wear them. However, California law is different for those under the age of 18.

Minors Need a Properly Fitting Helmet

The ACS says that pediatric non-helmeted bike riders have a 300% higher risk of sustaining a serious head injury than pediatric Hermitage riders. One study even suggests that helmets could reduce the risk of pediatric head injury by 83%.


This data shows why California requires that any bicycle rider under the age of 18 wear a helmet. The current fine for failing to wear a bicycle helmet when required to do so is $25.

Additionally, bicyclists who are required to wear a helmet must have one that is DOT-approved in order to meet the legal requirements. In other words, this should not be a novelty helmet. Any bicyclist under the age of 18 should have a helmet that is tested and approved by safety officials in order to provide the best protection for riders.

Adults Have a Choice

Adults have a choice when it comes to wearing a bicycle helmet. However, as we mentioned before, all riders are strongly encouraged to wear a DOT-approved helmet before hitting the roadways or the trails. The data we have provided certainly shows that helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries as well as fatalities. Wearing a helmet may be seen as an inconvenience to some, but it is a relatively minor inconvenience when we are talking about somebody’s health, safety, and overall life.

Where Should I Buy a Bicycle Helmet?

If you are already Googling where to buy the best helmet, that’s good. However, we encourage you to be cautious about where you get your DOT-approved helmet from. Unfortunately, there are many knockoffs and counterfeits out there, particularly in the online shopping realm. If you are going to buy your helmet online, we encourage you to avoid eBay or Amazon and stick to known bicycle, retailers and their websites. Buy from the helmet seller directly, but focus on well-known and established brands.

Additionally, we encourage you to check out local bicycle shops in your area. When you can go in and talk to a salesperson about the helmet, you are one step closer to getting the helmet that can offer you or your child the best protection.

Spend a little bit of money on a helmet and keep yourself, your loved ones, safe from bicyle accidents.