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Missouri debates ending mandatory helmet requirement for motorcyclists

Missouri legislators are currently debating a statute that would allow motorcyclists to navigate the state’s roads without helmets. This is part of a national trend toward repealing this requirement. Proponents of this campaign have won a series of state victories in recent years.

However, critics of this trend worry that helmetless motorcyclists will be more vulnerable when motorcycle accidents occur. Indeed, evidence is beginning to accumulate that a lack of helmets leads to more severe injuries as well as more fatalities among motorcyclists.

Trend spreads across United States to repeal motorcyclist helmet requirement

An article on the website of Kansas City public radio station KCUR describes the progress of the Missouri motorcyclist helmet legislation. The bill must be passed by both the House and the Senate, and then survive a potential veto by the governor, to become law.

One legislator who supports this change argues that most motorcyclist fatalities result from torso injuries rather than head injuries, while another worries that Missouri is losing tourist revenue because some motorcyclists on cross-country journeys avoid Missouri due to the helmet requirement.

Missouri is not alone in witnessing an attempt to overturn a previously imposed helmet requirement. As an NBC News article explains, “several states repealed mandatory helmet laws in recent years” and several more are considering such legislation. In 1997, a total of 26 states required motorcyclists to wear helmets, but currently only 19 states impose the requirement.

Evidence demonstrates that removing helmet requirement leads to an increase in fatalities

Despite the arguments of those who support repealing motorcyclist helmet requirements, there is evidence that this leads to more severe injuries and more fatalities among motorcyclists. An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that, after Michigan repealed its mandatory helmet law, insurance payments to injured motorcyclists rose by 34 percent – “from $5,410 two years earlier to $7,257 after the law was changed.”

Nationally, the number of motorcyclists fatally injured as a result of road accidents was projected to rise to 5,000 in 2012, which represents a 9 percent increase over 2011. This contributes to an overall national increase in motor vehicle fatalities over the same year – the first time that road deaths have risen in the U.S. since 2005.

If you are injured (or a loved one is killed) in Missouri while riding a motorcycle, you should engage an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer with relevant expertise will review the unique facts of each case, offer timely advice and provide vigorous representation in any court proceedings.


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