Jefferson City News Tribune, April 28
Easing helmet law would reverse emphasis on safety:
A proposal to relax helmet laws for motorcyclists is a bad idea that continues to get recycled in the Missouri Legislature.
This session’s version would eliminate the helmet requirements for riders age 21 and older. The measure was approved by the House on a 93-56 vote last week and advanced to the Senate.
With all the emphasis and expenditure to improve public safety in Missouri, we are at a loss to explain representatives’ support for this anti-safety measure.
Proponents cite personal freedom, but intentionally increasing the risk of injury or death extends beyond individual whim.
The risk is real.
In this forum in May 2013, we cited an Associated Press report that the average medical claim from a motorcycle crash increased by more than one-fifth after the state of Michigan relaxed its regulations. The change - which mirrors the existing Missouri proposal - resulted in a 22 percent hike in claims in comparison to four similar states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. The study was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
When claims increase, insurance premiums rise.
Increased claims also reflect more frequent and more severe injuries, which are consistent with not wearing a helmet when involved in a motorcycle accident.
Make no mistake - this is not simply a case of one person suffering the consequences of a poor decision.
Severe head injuries may result in long-term complications and permanent disabilities.
Many head injury victims reside at rehabilitation and long-term care facilities, often subsidized or supported by government funding.
Taxpayers have an interest in this proposal because they will help pay for injuries suffered by riders without helmets.
Beyond the financial cost is the more important emotional toll on family and friends. The victim isn’t the only person who suffers when an injury or death in an accident could have been prevented.