Troy Christianson

Law recommends wearing motorcycle helmet to prevent serious injuries, death

Ask a Trooper

Question: As we are ending the motorcycle season, I heard of an individual near Rochester who was killed by going off the road and striking a sign head on. He was not wearing a helmet. Being an individual who has been in a motorcycle accident with the helmet likely saving my life, why are helmets not required in the state of Minnesota for all two- and three-wheel bikes?

Answer: There is not a helmet law in Minnesota, unless the operator is under 18 years of age or is operating with a permit. Even though there is no helmet law, it is recommended that one is worn to help prevent serious injury or death.

The benefits helmets offer are clear; they protect the head in the event of a crash. In 2018 only sixteen (28 percent) of the 58 motorcycle riders killed were known to be wearing a helmet. Of the 913 motorcyclists injured, only 416 (46 percent) were known to be wearing a helmet.                 

In 2018 550 (55 percent) of motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes. In these crashes, the factors that reporting officers list most often are run off road (14 percent), careless/negligent/erratic driving (13 percent) and driver speeding (9 percent).

Just under half of all motorcycle crashes involve a collision with another vehicle. In many crashes, the driver never saw the motorcyclist — or did not see the rider until it was too late.

It is important for everyone to pay attention and avoid all distractions while driving. We need to be 100-percent attentive when driving any type of motor vehicle.

I have investigated far too many serious injury and fatal motorcycle crashes where a helmet could have made a difference. My advice is to always wear an approved helmet, along with proper high visible clothing to help reduce injury if involved in a crash.

Question: I had a question for the “Ask a Trooper” segment you do. I’ve noticed that school buses all have the words “School Bus” written at the top of the windshield on the front of the vehicle. Similarly, when the bus is used for a different purpose other than school, the words are scraped off or it says “Charter Bus” or something to that effect. What is the reason for that?

Answer: Minnesota law requires the School Bus sign be covered when it is not being used as a school bus. This helps identify which buses are being used for which purpose. It also is a way to signal to the public that the bus will not be making any student stops.

More children are killed outside of a school bus than they are as bus occupants. Motorists must anticipate children in a school bus “danger zone” — the area around a bus where most injuries and deaths occur.

Follow the law and keep children safe:

•Stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear or from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

•Remember that red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus.

•State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended. Red flashing lights on buses indicate students are either entering or exiting the bus. In 2017 the fine for a school bus stop arm/red lights violation in Minnesota increased from $300 to $500. 


You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,


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