Motorcycle Helmet Laws Debated

Last Updated on April 9, 2013 7:18 pm

*Original article posted March 13, 2013, updated April 9, 2013*

Several states, including North Carolina, are debating a change to their motorcycle helmet laws. A bill by North Carolina Rep. John Torbett, of Stanley County, heard debate on Tuesday March 12, 2013 by the state House Transportation Committee.

The bill would require helmets for riders younger than 18, but only if the rider has held a motorcycle license or motorcycle endorsement for more than 12 months or has successfully completed the course of instruction offered by the Motorcycle Safety Instruction Program.

The bill goes on to read “but in no case may a person operate a motorcycle without wearing a safety helmet unless the operator is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.” *see the bill at the end of this article*

There was no vote on Tuesday (March 12, 2013), but a committee amendment changed the bill to mandate that helmets be worn until the age of 21. *Update April 9, 2013 – the proposed bill has moved to the Judiciary Subcommittee*

Meanwhile in Tennessee a same type of bill passed a legislative panel on Tuesday (March 12, 2013). It differs from North Carolina in that insurance coverage requirements would be a minimum of $100,000 in liability and $200,00 in medical. Riders would also have to take a safety course and buy a $50 sticker permit. *Update April 9, 2013 – the proposed bill is now in a Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee*

Also on Tuesday (March 12, 2013) lawmakers in Missouri debated change to a state law to suspend helmet requirements for the month of August each year. The bill called “Helmet Holiday” is to coincide with the annual Sturgis Rally in South Dakota. The sponsor of that bill contends that Missouri could benefit from a tourism boom due to riders coming through their state heading to and from Sturgis. Lawmakers are also considering raising the helmet law to riders 21 and over.

Nebraska lawmakers are also looking into raising their law to 21 and over.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

19 states, including North Carolina, require a helment for all motorcycle riders

Laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states

There is no motorcycle helmet use law in 3 states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire)

Some bicyclists are required by law to wear a helmet in 21 states and the District of Columbia

There is no bicycle helmet use law in 29 states

The proposed North Carolina bill. Click on the arrow in the right corner for a larger view.
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