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Motorcycle Helmets law under attack again in the US

Another legislative battle over motorcycle helmets is under way. State Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, has filed two bills. One would limit the helmet requirement to riders under 21 and the other would set the limit at 18. The battle is not new. Despite proof that helmets save lives, former governor and motorcycle enthusiast Mike Foster succeeded in getting the helmet requirement dropped. It was reinstated during the administration of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

People who have to deal with highway accidents opposed Foster’s move to change the law. Police officers, who have to control the scene, comfort the injured and sometimes deliver grim news to a biker’s next of kin, wanted the motorcycle helmets law to stay on the books. Doctors who must try to put bikers back together after a crash agreed.

A popular argument from bikers is that as adults they have the right to make their own decisions, even dangerous ones, without interference from government. The law is intended to do more than protect the biker. It is also intended to protect family members against the loss of a loved one – possibly the bread-winner. It addresses costs to society that accompany accidental injury and death.

Statistics connected to Foster’s successful effort in 1999 to drop the motorcycle helmet law are also compelling. The fatality rate for motorcycle riders, which had been at 2.7 percent, jumped to 4.5 percent in 2003. With the reinstatement of the law in 2004, the rate dropped to 4.0 percent.

Meanwhile, a study conducted at Louisiana State University showed the risk of being killed almost doubles for those who ride without motorcycle helmets.

it looks very much like the facts favor mandatory use of helmets by motorcycle riders. Hopefully, LaFleur’s bills will be rejected.

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