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Helmet and seating laws

What motorcycle riders need to know

Helmet laws

Did you know that one in five motorcycle crashes results in head or neck injuries for the rider?
Wearing a proper motorcycle safety helmet is one of the most important factors in preventing or reducing these injuries.

The law requires motorcycle operators and passengers to wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet. Operators must ensure all passengers younger than 16 wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet. The helmet laws also apply to limited-speed motorcycles. An exception is made for people of the Sikh religion with unshorn hair who wear full turbans.

Failure to meet these requirements may result in a fine and seizure of any non-compliant helmet (such as novelty beanies). Failure to produce a helmet for inspection is also an offence.

Approved helmets

A motorcycle safety helmet must meet one of the following safety standards:

  1. DOT: conformance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218; Motorcycle helmets (United States of America), also known as FMVSS 218 (49CFR571.218).

  2. Snell M2005 or Snell M2010: certification in accordance with the Snell Memorial Foundation 2005 or 2010 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use with Motorcycles and Other Motorized Vehicles.

  3. ECE: approved in accordance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) ECE Regulation No. 22.

Your safety helmet must display the proper label—DOT, Snell and ECE helmet standards each contain specific labelling requirements.

Checklist for buying a helmet

  • Choose a helmet that meets DOT, Snell or ECE helmet safety standards.

  • Be sure it displays the proper label and meets safety-helmet labelling requirements.

  • A full-face helmet provides the best protection in a collision as well as protection from wind, dust, rain, insects and debris. It's the only type that protects the face.

  • Be seen. Choose a bright colour (white makes you more visible). Add reflective tape to the sides and back for greater visibility.

  • Go for fit. Your helmet should feel snug around the entire head. Wear it for 10 to 15 minutes in the store to ensure no pressure points develop which can cause headaches while riding. Be aware that the padding may compress over time and the fit may become looser.

  • The helmet chin strap is important. It keeps the helmet on your head if you're in a crash. Check the chin strap mechanism. Make sure it's easy to fasten, release and adjust. Be sure it can be fastened securely.

  • Avoid buying a used helmet. It may have been in a crash and the damage may not be obvious.

  • Already own a helmet? You should replace it if it's been dropped, in a crash or showing signs of wear.

Seating laws

B.C.'s motorcycle seating laws promote rider and passenger safety.

The law requires that:

  • The operator of a motorcycle must be seated astride the driver's seat.

  • Passengers must be seated behind the operator astride the passenger's seat with their feet on footpegs or the floorboards, or be properly seated in a side car.

As the motorcycle operator, you're responsible to ensure passengers younger than 16 are properly seated. Any passengers, including children, who can't reach footpegs are not permitted to ride as passengers on your motorcycle. Failure to comply with seating laws may result in a fine or vehicle impoundment.

More information

For more information on helmet laws, labelling requirements and seating laws, go to Goverment of B.C. website.

Fines and penalty point information is available on