Missouri pushes closer to dropping motorcycle helmets

Missouri pushes closer to dropping motorcycle helmets
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Motorcycle helmets could become optional in Missouri.

Legislators have passed a bill that would do away with mandatory helmets for riders 18 and older.

There are riders on both sides of the issue.

Laramie Lafarge will tell you there’s nothing quite like the feeling of riding a motorcyle, especially helmet-free.

“The wind in the hair, and the freedom of riding, and a lot to do with Harley is the self-expression and someone telling you what to do,” explained Lafarge.

Lafarge is all about freedom of choice, something lawmakers are pushing for with Senate Bill 147 which would do away with required helmets for riders 18 and older, but some think that’s a turn in the wrong direction.

“Riding motorcycles, I was never allowed to throw a leg over it without a helmet. Being active-duty military, we were required to wear a helmet at all times basically because if we got hurt, military wasn’t gonna reimburse our medical expenses,” said Wesley Burnham, a rider coach at Harley Davidson.

The state seems to feel the same way, mandating that bikers could ride helmet free as long as they have health insurance that would cover any motorcycle-related injuries. Medicaid would qualify. Burnham says its needed because injuries will happen.

“Wearing a helmet properly reduces the risk of brain injury by 67% and the risk of death by 37%. I see the benefit of wearing a helmet, a lot more than not,” stated Burnham.

The bill is just a signature away as it awaits the approval of Governor Parson, and while some say the change can’t come soon enough, others stress the importance of safety.

“As an instructor, and my personal beliefs, I’ll never get on a bike and start out without having a helmet on,” said Burnham.

“In this area, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas are non-helmet states, so all our surrounding states are non and sometimes for people just to do a day ride to come visit a dealership, if they’re in one of those states and don’t wear a helmet, well as soon as they step into our state, they do, and if they don’t have a helmet, they’re not coming over,” said Lafarge.

The same legislation that would change the helmet law would also change laws about car inspections in the state. Vehicles wouldn’t have to be inspected until they are 10 years old, if they have fewer than 150,000 miles.

If you’re interested in a class at Harley Davidson, you can find more information here.