• Bill would end helmet law for adult motorcycle riders

    By: John Knicely

    Updated:

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - Motorcycle riders over 18 in Washington would no longer be forced to wear helmets if a state Senate bill becomes law. 

    Washington is one of 19 states that requires all riders to wear a helmet.

    The Senate Transportation Committee is set to discuss Senate Bill 5198 Monday afternoon.  Mark Medalen with the Traffic Safety Commission is set to testify against it.

    “Helmets reduce fatalities, they reduce injuries and reduce medical costs for all of us,” said Medalen.  “We had a universal helmet law in the state, and in 1977 that universal helmet law was repealed.  It went away, and almost immediately, we saw fatalities from motorcycle crashes double.”

    A partial helmet law was then passed in 1992, and a couple years later, a universal law was passed.

    Bardsley Donovan, a mechanic at Seattle Used Bikes, learned the hard way how important his motorcycle helmet can be.  He was hit by a car in a Chicago intersection.

    “We collided and bumped my head really hard, and without a helmet, I'd either have a plate or be dead,” said Donovan.

    That being said, he supports the bill and says riders should have the right to choose whether they wear a helmet.

    “I think it gets down to natural selection,” said Donavan.  “If you don't want to wear a helmet and you bust your head open, so be it.  That's your problem.”

    Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, issued this statement to KIRO 7.

    “I introduced Senate Bill 5198 because I believe that adults should have the right to choose when it comes to wearing a helmet.

    “I’ve heard from scores of riders over the years who feel they are in far greater physical danger [with a mandatory helmet law] because helmets significantly impair their hearing and vision – two things essential to the safe operation of motorcycle.

     “While I appreciate the safety concerns of helmet-advocates, the bottom line is that I come down on the side of personal freedom and individual responsibility, and I always will.”

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