NC Bicycle Helmet Law
Text of law
AN ACT TO REQUIRE
THE USE OF CERTAIN SAFETY EQUIPMENT BY CHILDREN WHILE THEY ARE BICYCLE
OPERATORS OR PASSENGERS
SECTION 1. Chapter 20
of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Part 10B to Article
3 to read:
10B. Child Bicycle Safety Act.
20-171.6. Short title.
This Article shall be known and may
be cited as the 'Child Bicycle Safety Act'.
Legislative findings and purpose.
— The General Assembly finds and declares that:
— Disability and death of children resulting from injuries
sustained in bicycling accidents are a serious threat to the public
health, welfare, and safety of the people of this State, and the
prevention of that disability and death is a goal of all North
(2) — Head injuries are
the leading cause of disability and death from bicycling accidents.
(3) — The risk of head
injury from bicycling accidents is significantly reduced for bicyclists
who wear proper protective bicycle helmets; yet helmets are worn
by fewer than five percent (5%) of child bicyclists nationwide.
(4) — The risk of head
injury or of any other injury to a small child who is a passenger
on a bicycle operated by another person would be significantly
reduced if any child passenger sat in a separate restraining seat.
— The purpose of this Article is to reduce the incidence of
disability and death resulting from injuries incurred in bicycling
accidents by requiring that while riding on a bicycle on the public
roads, public bicycle paths, and other public rights-of-way of this
State, all bicycle operators and passengers under the age of 16
years wear approved protective bicycle helmets; that all bicycle
passengers who weigh less than 40 pounds or are less than 40 inches
in height be seated in separate restraining seats; and that no person
who is unable to maintain an erect, seated position shall be a passenger
in a bicycle restraining seat, and all other bicycle passengers
shall be seated on saddle seats.
As used in this Article, the following
terms have the following meanings:
— 'Bicycle' means a human-powered vehicle with two wheels
in tandem designed to transport, by the action of pedaling, one
or more persons seated on one or more saddle seats on its frame.
This term also includes a human-powered vehicle, designed to transport
by the action of pedaling which has more than two wheels where
the vehicle is used on a public roadway, public bicycle path,
or other public right-of-way, but does not include a tricycle.
(2) — 'Operator' means
a person who travels on a bicycle seated on a saddle seat from
which that person is intended to and can pedal the bicycle.
(3) — 'Other public right-of-way'
means any right- of-way other than a public roadway or public
bicycle path that is under the jurisdiction and control of this
State or a local political subdivision of the State and is designed
for use and used by vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic.
(4) — 'Passenger' means
a person who travels on a bicycle in any manner except as an operator.
(5) — 'Protective bicycle
helmet' means a piece of headgear that meets or exceeds the impact
standards for protective bicycle helmets set by the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
(6) — 'Public bicycle
path' means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control
of this State or a local political subdivision of the State for
use primarily by bicycles and pedestrians.
(7) — 'Public roadway'
means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of this
State or a local political subdivision of the State for use primarily
by motor vehicles.
(8) — 'Restraining seat'
means a seat separate from the saddle seat of the operator of
the bicycle that is fastened securely to the frame of the bicycle
and is adequately equipped to restrain the passenger in such seat
and protect such passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.
(9) — 'Tricycle' means
a three-wheeled, human- powered vehicle designed for use as a
toy by a single child under the age of six years, the seat of
which is no more than two feet from ground level.
Requirements for helmet and restraining seat use.
With regard to any bicycle used on
a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way:
— It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of
a person below the age of 16 to knowingly permit that person to
operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when
the person is so engaged he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet
of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the
(b) — It shall be unlawful
for any parent or legal guardian of a person below the age of 16
to knowingly permit that person to be a passenger on a bicycle unless
all of the following conditions are met:
— The person is able to maintain an erect, seated position
on the bicycle.
(2) — Except as provided
in subdivision (3) of this subsection, the person is properly
seated alone on a saddle seat (as on a tandem bicycle).
(3) — With respect to
any person who weighs less than 40 pounds, or is less than 40
inches in height, the person can be and is properly seated in
and adequately secured to a restraining seat.
— No negligence or liability shall be assessed on or imputed
to any party on account of a violation of subsection (a) or (b)
of this section.
(d) — Violation of this
section shall be an infraction. Except as provided in subsection
(e) of this section, any parent or guardian found responsible for
violation of this section may be ordered to pay a civil fine of
up to ten dollars ($10.00), inclusive of all penalty assessments
and court costs.
(e) — In the case of a
first conviction of this section, the court may waive the fine upon
receipt of satisfactory proof that the person responsible for the
infraction has purchased or otherwise obtained, as appropriate,
a protective bicycle helmet or a restraining seat, and uses and
intends to use it whenever required under this section.
2. This act becomes effective October 1, 2001.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 28th
day of June, 2001.
s/ Beverly E. Perdue President of the Senate
s/ James B. Black Speaker of the House of Representatives
s/ Michael F. Easley Governor
Approved 11:50 a.m. this 5th day of July, 2001
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