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Repeal of helmet law would cost too much

Staff Report • Feb 28, 2013 at 8:57 AM

There’s yet another attempt being made in the Tennessee General Assembly to repeal a state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. It was a bad idea last year (when lawmakers wisely decided to take a pass on this misguided legislation), just as it was a bad idea when it came up the session before that.

Supporters of repealing the law are certainly passionate when it comes to this issue. Unfortunately, their hardheadedness will do little to save them from serious injury if they have a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet.

Committee hearings are scheduled this week in the House and Senate to allow motorcyclists 21 and older to decided for themselves if they want to wear a helmet. Tennessee lawmakers should make no changes to the law.

Accidents can and do happen to the most careful of riders, and even the most experienced bikers are subject to serious head injuries if they are not wearing a helmet. Repealing the mandatory helmet law will only result in higher insurance costs for all Tennesseans. A study conducted in Washington found that state’s taxpayers paid nearly $3.3 million a year to care for injured, helmetless bikers and their families.

Studies indicate that wearing a helmet can help motorcyclists reduce their risk of head injury in crashes by up to 85 percent. Federal highway safety officials have even reported a helmet can help protect a rider from brain injury by up to 88 percent.

All compelling reasons for state lawmakers to leave the helmet law as it is.

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