Motorcycle riders back helmet law revision

Alex Beard puts his helmet on Wednesday. Some state lawmakers want to remove helmet requirements for riders over 21.

Several motorcycle riders told KRCG 13 Wednesday they liked a proposal to loosen Missouri's helmet law.

The Missouri House of Representatives gave first-round approval Wednesday morning to a proposal that would allow motorcyclists to ride without a helmet if they are at least 21 years old. Riders said they thought helmet use should be left up to the rider rather than mandating it.

"I just think it's everybody's choice," said Alex Beard. "If you want to wear a helmet, I think you should be entitled to, absolutely. If you don't want to wear a helmet, I think that is something that should be your choice."

Beard and another rider, Mike Helm, said they usually ride without helmets in states with more relaxed helmet laws. They said they like the feel of the wind in their hair.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Missouri's helmet law, enacted in 1967, saved 46 lives per 100,000 registered motorcycles in 2010. The CDC estimates that saved Missouri's economy some $93 million. On average, universal helmet laws save about 3.5 times as many lives per 100,000 registered motorcycles as partial helmet laws each year. The CDC says any law that requires helmet use by riders within a certain age range is a partial helmet law. That description would fit the bill currently in the legislature.

Steve Coleman said he has crashed motorcycles four times, most recently in October. His helmeted head hit the pavement each time.

"I hit so hard, the inner lining is impacted. The helmet no longer fits anymore," he said of his October crash. "I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had it."

Coleman said he never rides without a helmet but thinks government should not mandate their use.

The helmet bill needs another House vote before moving to the Senate.