Helmet law for motorcyclists to be reconsidered by lawmakers

Helmet law for motorcyclists to be reconsidered by lawmakers (Image 1)

Tennessee is one of 19 states that require motorcyclists to wear helmets, but some lawmakers are aiming to change that.

The “Liberty Restoration Act” would make helmets optional for riders over the age of 21.

Motorcyclists who meet certain minimum insurance and training requirements would pay a $50 fee to display a special sticker permitting them to ride without a helmet.

Tennessee Motorcycle Lobbyists CMT/ABATE maintain the issue is about freedom of choice.

In a statement given by CMT/ABATE, Legislative Director Rhonda Rae Williams said that currently there are 31 states who allow adults to make that decision themselves.

“Kentucky merchants have enjoyed motorcycle tourism revenues, including Tennessee residents, since 1998. That is because their state departments have failed to meet the burden of proof that motorcyclists are a 'social burden' to tax revenues,” Williams said.

In March of 2012, Nashvillian Jamie Simmons was riding his '09 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic when a car pulled in front of him from a side street.

His life changed in an instant.

“I don't remember the accident at all,” recalled Simmons. “I hit the car and went up in the air and spun around and came down directly ion my face.”

“I broke my jaw, broke six of my teeth out, broke my arm here, broke my pelvis, a couple of ribs, shattered both my femurs, my tibia so now I've got plates and screws all the way up,” added Simmons.

He recently underwent his 18th surgery, and still walks with crutches.

He told Nashville's News 2 his helmet may have saved his life and that before that accident, he had no strong thoughts towards helmet laws.

“We're not for certain that it saved my life, but we know that it kept me from having brain damage,” said Simmons.

Motorcyclist Jared Whitman of east Nashville supports the bill.

“You don't want to wear one, I think you should have the choice,” Whitman said. “I'm not a fan of anytime the government is making laws that take away your choices.”

He told Nashville's News 2 his own choice, however, is clear.

“Given the choice I would still wear one. I would still make anyone that rides with me wear one,” said Whitman.

The bill, SB 0548, comes up in subcommittees next week.

Similar bills have failed to pass since the late 1970s.

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