On my first night in Tennessee back in 2006 in the town of Savannah to be exact, I decided to ride the one mile trek from my motel to the local convenience store helmetless.
No lectures please. Yes I subscribe to the ATGETT school of riding, however after riding over 9 hours from Dallas that day and all cleaned up on a balmy summer evening I was intending to grab something to eat and make an exception to get up there and back.
When I pulled into the parking lot of the convenience store, a driver rolled down his window to tell me it's against the law in Tennessee to ride without a helmet. No sooner a squad car on the street puts on all the flashing lights and slowly heads toward me silently with no siren. Two cops get out and look me over as well as the bike. Conversation starts out with things like "Where you from?" I explain my helmet is in my motel room and promise to ride on home and never ride in Tennessee helmetless again. They tell me the problem is if anything should happen to me at that point, they could be held liable for making the exception. I then say I can just walk back down the road and bring it back. Not sure if maybe they didn't believe me or liked my charming personality , but the two patrolmen looked at each other and then said" How bout we give you a ride to get it?" I say sure and no sooner I'm put in the back seat of a squad car separated from the front seat by a mesh screen and no way to roll down the windows.
They take me right to my motel door and I grab my Shoei for the ride back to my bike. We talk along the way back with them asking how the heck does someone ride a motorcycle to Nove Scotia. They have to open the rear door from the outside to let me out and with that, they wish me good luck. I apologize again and thank them as well.
I have no idea how many states require a helmet, though Texas is not one of them.
Tennessee definitely is, so if you're thinking of just riding across the street to get gas in the morning before loading up the bike and dressing out, think again.