Motorcycle Helmet Bill Passes Mo. House

May 2, 2013

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would allow motorcyclists to ride without wearing helmets.

The bill would lift the mandatory helmet law for motorcycle drivers and passenger who are at least 21 years of age or older.  

The sponsor, GOP House Member Eric Burlison of Springfield, says the data he’s seen indicates that most motorcycle deaths are from torso injuries, not head trauma.

“At the end of the day, being on a motorcycle is an unsafe activity, but until we decide that we’re not gonna let people be on motorcycles, I think it’s folly to assume that a helmet changes anything when the data does not indicate otherwise,” Burlison said.

Supporters say it’s a freedom of choice issue, and suggested that it would boost tourism from cross-country motorcyclists.  Republican House Member Keith Frederick of Rolla, however, argued against the bill.

“These folks will end up in our emergency rooms – their debts, their medical care, will end up on the balance sheets of our hospitals in the bad debts section,” Frederick said. “It’s basically not fair that the taxpayers and the rest of society has to underwrite this dangerous activity.”

Frederick says he could have supported the bill if it had required un-helmeted motorcyclists to buy proper health coverage.  The bill passed, but not by a large enough margin to overcome a potential veto from Governor Jay Nixon, who vetoed a similar bill four years ago.  It now heads to the Missouri Senate.