Missouri considers law allowing motorcyclists to ride without helmets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The debate on motorcycle helmet laws returns to Missouri.

On Monday, the state senate will take a look at a bill aiming to eliminate the requirement for all motorcycle and motor-tricycle riders to wear a helmet. 

Missouri law says anyone riding a motorcycle on Missouri roads has to wear a helmet. More than 15 other states have similar, universal helmet laws. In Kansas adults have the choice whether to wear a helmet.

Senate Bill 556 would give anyone older than 18 that has a full license the choice of wearing a helmet so long as they have insurance to cover $1 million worth of medical payments.

Motorcyclists pushing for the change say riders from other states avoid Missouri on road trips (like the pilgrimage of sorts in August to Sturgis) because of the current helmet law.

Organizations like Freedom of Road Riders don’t think helmets are bad, but its membership believes the government should not make a choice for them.

On the other side, most motorcycle driving instructors who spoke to 41 Action News argue helmets are safer. One instructor said the decision to ride without a helmet impacts more people than just the rider because so many people will have to take care of that person if they're seriously hurt. 

"You have a circle of influence of people who are going to be affected if you have a traumatic brain injury," said David Abrams, a teacher at Metropolitan Community College - Maple Woods. 

Studies support claims that helmets are safer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said helmets reduce the risk of dying by more than one third. 
 
"[My children] can identify the fact that a rider is not dressed for the crash. Which is what we all should do: you don't dress for the ride, you dress for the crash because someday it could happen to you," said Abrams. 

The proposal to allow helmet choice has come up over of the past several years in Missouri. Each proposal was a little different. Legislators have until May 18 to make a decision on this bill. 

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