Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®: Missouri Takes a Look at Motorcycle Helmet Law Reprieve For August
An ongoing and often rather heated discussion across the nation has been the topic of mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. Currently 19 states have mandatory helmet laws and motorcycle rights groups along with some government officials have attempted to repeal them. On the other side of the coin, health groups and other officials have defended the laws advocating the benefits to wearing head protection.
While the debate rages on, in the state of Missouri, there is a new twist. Every August, hundreds of thousands of bikers make their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and for many, the best route takes them through the state of Missouri. A large portion of these motorcycle riders come from states where there is no mandatory helmet law and many choose to not drive through Missouri because of the state requirement to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
Republican Eric Burlison has proposed a law that would allow riders to travel through Missouri without a helmet during the month of August as they make their way to and from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The idea behind the bill is to keep the helmet law intact throughout the other 11 months of the year, while offering riders who choose not to wear helmets, the chance to come in and view what the state of Missouri has to offer and potentially spend their tourism dollars in the state.
There are a number of motorcycle groups and freedom of choice advocates backing this bill, but Democrat Mike Colona and the Missouri State Medical Association are vehemently opposed to the idea stating, “There is no constitutionally guaranteed right not to wear a helmet. Common sense tells me if it’s a head injury and you’re wearing a helmet, your head probably wouldn’t get hurt as much as if you’re not wearing a helmet.” “It does affect other people. It affects family members. It affects kids”.
This is only the next step in the drama that is the Missouri motorcycle helmet law saga. Back in 2009, the Legislature passed an action that would repeal the mandatory law; however it was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon who felt that health care costs and injuries would be negatively affected. Thus, the repeal motion died there. Interestingly, there is a separate motion to repeal the law in its entirety back on the legislative agenda as well.
Economics, freedom, and safety all weigh heavily in the motorcycle helmet debate, a polarizing topic that doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.