North Carolina may repeal mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists

Motorcycle riders in North Carolina may soon have the option to choose whether or not to wear a helmet while riding. The proposed bill to get rid of the state’s mandatory helmet law was approved by the House Transportation Committee and will now go to the house judiciary panel.

The bill would offer motorcycle riders the choice of riding without a helmet if they were age 21 or older and had their motorcycle license for at least a year. Riders would also be required to complete a motorcycle safety course and have proper insurance that would cover at least $10,000 in medical benefits. The bill would also decrease the fine from $135.50 to only $25.50 for riders who violate the law.

Several are opposed to the bill because of the safety impact helmets have during motorcycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that helmets reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle accident by 37 percent. Those opposed also say that more injuries requiring hospitalization will happen if not all motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet, creating more costs for the state.

Despite some opposition, many groups support the bill, including North Carolina’s Concerned Bikers Association. Many supporters say that states that have stricter motorcycle helmet laws don’t actually see any decrease in fatal motorcycle accidents. They say that mandating helmet use does not impact safety and instead, restricts the rights of motorcyclists to choose how they want to ride.

If the proposed bill is approved, it would be a big change for North Carolina riders. The state is currently one of 19 states to have universal helmet requirements for anyone riding a motorcycle in North Carolina. If the bill becomes law, the state would allow many motorcycle riders the choice to wear their helmet and at the same time, worry many motorists and safety advocates about the risks of being involved in a motorcycle accident.

Source: WSLS, “NC panel OKs optional motorcycle helmet for adults,” Gary D. Robertson, March 26, 2013

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