Missouri Motorcycle Helmet Laws
One of the joys of motorcycle riding is the feeling of freedom it engenders. Of course, freedom always has inherent risks. Despite these risks, riders can take measures to increase their safety, and wearing a helmet is just one of those measures. Riding without a helmet has been illegal in the state of Missouri, and riders caught without helmets on their heads are fined $25 for both rider and passenger. Last year, however, a bill was introduced that would change this. If you or a family member is ever involved in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced and successful Kansas City, MO motorcycle accident lawyer for a free legal consultation and legal counsel.
Where the Law Stands Now
By a narrow vote, the Missouri House of Representatives came a step closer to making it legal for cyclists to ride without helmets. The House passed the bill and it now heads to the Senate for a vote.
It’s a controversial issue. Its sponsor, Rep. Eric Burlison, believes that riders should have a choice about whether to wear helmets and that the government shouldn’t interfere with that personal decision. One outspoken opponent of the bill, Rep. Deb Lavender, calls it a “jobs bill,” and says that it will increase jobs in physical therapy, hospitals, and neurosurgeons.
If the bill does become law, motorcycle drivers will have to be older than 21, must undergo additional training, and would pay higher insurance premiums. Though the passage of the bill looks hopeful, similar bills have tanked. The Senate killed the most recent one before this. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed another one in 2009.
What It Means for the State
This is either a great step for the state or a huge drawback, depending on the person you ask. Proponents say it’s a civil liberty issue and that anyone older than 21 who wants to ride helmet less should be able to do so without penalty. They also suggest the passing the bill into law would help the state’s budget by bringing in riders from other states that don’t have helmet requirements, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas (which require helmets only for people 17 and younger).
Opponents suggest that this bill could cost much more than it would save. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2013 alone, the United States could have saved $1.1 billion if cyclists had worn helmets. Rep. Bill White suggests that the bill’s passage would result in further economic damages. According to White, seriously injured helmetless riders are often no longer be able to work and likely would need government assistance. He does have some expertise here, at least by association; his wife is a neurosurgeon and has witnessed the devastating consequences of riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
Motorcycle Safety – by the Numbers
Regardless of a citizen’s stance on wearing helmets, riding a motorcycle without proper gear is dangerous. The CDC estimates that:
- Wearing helmets saved about 1,600 lives in 2013 and about $2.8 million
- Helmets reduced motorcyclists’ deaths by nearly 37%
- Helmets lower the risk of head injury by 69%
CDC Director Thomas Frieden says, “Universal helmet laws are the most effective way to reduce the number of deaths and traumatic brain injuries that result from crashes.” The United States doesn’t have a universal helmet law; in Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire there are no helmets required for anyone. If the bill does pass the Senate, it will be up to Gov. Nixon, who vetoed the bill once before.
Those who have been injured in motorcycle collisions and those who have lost loved ones as a result of motorcycle crashes wrongful deaths understand the lasting devastation of these accidents. To discuss whether you can seek compensation from a personal injury lawsuit if you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, reach out to an experienced attorney at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet. We are a personal injury and accident law firm in Kansas City, MO. Our firm is one of the most successful and experienced Kansas City injury attorneys in all of Kansas City and the entire state of Missouri.