University of Vermont AAHS

Tennessee Bicycle Helmet Statute

TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED
TITLE 55 MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES
CHAPTER 52 CHILD BICYCLE SAFETY

55-52-102 Legislative findings and declarations.

The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(1) 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 Tennessee, and the prevention of such disability and death is a goal of such people;

(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; and

(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 such child-passenger sat in a separate restraining seat.

 

55-52-103 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Bicycle" means a human-powered vehicle with two (2) wheels in tandem designed to transport, by the action of pedaling, one (1) or more persons seated on one (1) or more saddle seats on its frame. "Bicycle" also includes a human-powered vehicle designed to transport by pedaling which has more than two (2) 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 the state or a local political subdivision thereof and is designed for use and used by vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic;

(4) "Passenger" means any person who travels on a bicycle in any manner except as an operator;

(5) "Protective bicycle helmet" means a piece of headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for protective bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation, or which is otherwise approved by the commissioner of safety;

(6) "Public bicycle path" means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the state or a local political subdivision thereof for use primarily by bicycles and pedestrians;

(7) "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;

(8) "State roadway" means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the state for use primarily by motor vehicles; and

(9) "Tricycle" means a three-wheeled human-powered vehicle.

 

55-52-104 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter 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 state roadways, all bicycle operators and passengers under sixteen (16) years of age wear approved protective bicycle helmets; that all bicycle passengers who weigh less than forty pounds (40 lbs.) or who are less than forty inches (40") 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.

 

55-52-105 Child bicycle safety rules and regulations.

With regard to any bicycle used on a state roadway, it is unlawful:

(1) For any person under sixteen (16) years of age to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle unless at all times when so engaged such person wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet;

(2) For any person to be a passenger on a bicycle unless, with respect to any person who weighs fewer than forty pounds (40 lbs.), or is less than forty inches (40") in height, the person can be and is properly seated in and adequately secured to a restraining seat;

(3) For any parent or legal guardian of a person below twelve (12) years of age to knowingly permit such person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle in violation of subdivision (1) or (2); and

(4) To rent or lease any bicycle to or for the use of any person under sixteen (16) years of age unless:

(A) The person is in possession of a protective bicycle helmet of good fit at the time of such rental or lease; or

(B) The rental or lease includes a protective bicycle helmet of good fit, and the person intends to wear the helmet, as required by subdivision (1), at all times while operating or being a passenger on the bicycle.

 

55-52-106 Penalty -- Defense -- Inadmissibility as evidence in civil action.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), any adult person violating any requirement set forth in 55-52-105 commits a violation and upon conviction be sentenced to pay a fine of two dollars ($2) and court costs.

(b) Upon commission of the first offense within a twelve-month period under s 55-52-105(3), it shall be a defense that the accused has since the date of the violation purchased or provided a protective bicycle helmet or a restraining seat, and uses and intends to use or causes to be used or intends to cause to be used the same as the law requires.

(c) In no event shall failure to wear a protective bicycle helmet or to secure a passenger to a restraining seat be admissible as evidence in a trial of any civil action.


Return to Top of This Page
Return to Helmet Laws Page