Missouri bill to legalise riding a motorcycle without a helmet revived

A lawmarker in the US state of Missouri is again trying to repeal a law that makes wearing a helmet on a motorcycle mandatory

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP

For all of the issues and opinions offered across a broad range of topics in the motorcycle industry today, the one many can probably agree on is wearing a helmet should correctly be a necessary and imperative trope of riding a motorcycle.

And yet, there is a lawmaker in the US state of Missouri who is determined to introduce a bill that allows riders to ditch the helmet and be safe from prosecution.

Last year, Senator Eric Burlison attempted to introduce a bill in 2019 that repealed Missouri’s law that states a rider must wear a helmet or face prosecution, but it was shot down for reasons which should be fairly clear.

Nonetheless, Senator Burlison is not giving up on what seems to be a disordinate amount of time, effort and tax payers money trying to get the bill passed with some amendments.

New for 2020, the bill now states riders under 18-years of age should wear said helmets and that riders who do so must have medical insurance.

The amendments read as follows:

“This act provides that persons under the age of 18 who are operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle or motortricycle shall wear a helmet when the vehicle is in motion. Similarly, a person who is 18 or older, is operating a motorcycle or motortricycle, and who has been issued an instruction permit shall wear a helmet when the vehicle is in motion.

“No political subdivision of the state shall impose a protective headgear requirement on the operator or passenger of a motorcycle or motortricycle. No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely to determine compliance with these provisions. (Section 302.020.2)” 

“This act also provides that qualified operators who are 18 or older may operate a motorcycle or motortricycle without a helmet if he or she is covered by a health insurance policy or other form of insurance which will provide the person with medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a motorcycle or motortricycle accident.

“Proof of such coverage shall be provided on request of law enforcement by showing a copy of the qualified operator's insurance card. No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely to determine compliance with these provisions. (Section 302.026)”

The reasoning behind getting this law repealed seems to be purely a lifestyle one – not to mention the ‘it’s my life’ mantra – by allowing you to, colloquially speaking, feel the wind in your hair.

The statistics aren’t in this bill’s favour regardless of what the free-riding testimonials may try to convince you of.

In states where said law has been repealed, there are 41 per cent more riders not wearing a helmet. More pertinently, those states have seen fatalities rise by 38 per cent. Local authorities say 109 people lost their lives to motorcycle crashes in Missouri with the helmet law him place, a figure that would surely rise if it was repealed.

While the new amendment seems to place the onus on the rider and the prospect of insurance covering his or her own failings, the whole ruling does seem a rather selfish one for those who may otherwise be affected.

But what do you think? If the UK didn’t make a helmet mandatory, would you wear one?