A bill moving through the North Carolina legislature could affect the safety of all motorcycle riders. The legislation, House Bill 109, would make the use of a motorcycle helmet optional for adults, repealing North Carolina’s current mandatory helmet law. According to News 14 Carolina, the House Transportation Committee has already approved the bill, and the bill has moved forward to the House Judiciary Committee for debate and a vote.
Unfortunately, this law would increase the risk of serious head injuries to motorcycle riders and passengers in the event of an accident. Our motorcycle accident lawyers know that helmets can significantly reduce the chances of death or serious injury. North Carolina’s current helmet laws mandate helmet use and have made the state one of the safest in terms of motorcycle death and accidents. Opponents of House Bill 109 believe that this new law would jeopardize the safety of all riders. Supporters contend riding free is a right and wearing a helmet is a choice. Experienced injury attorneys understand victims are due compensation regardless of helmet use when someone’s negligence causes a serious or fatal collision.
New Motorcycle Helmet Law Considered
House Bill 109 proposes some very important changes to the current law. If the bill passes, the mandatory motorcycle helmet requirement will be repealed. Instead, helmet use will be optional if:
- The rider is 21 years of age or older.
- The rider has had a motorcycle license or an endorsement for a period of at least twelve months.
- The rider has successfully completed a course in motorcycle safety.
- The rider has insurance that provides at least $10,000 in coverage for medical benefits after a motorcycle accident.
Under these new requirements, a good portion of adult riders who are currently required to wear helmets would now have the choice.
The Risks of the New NC Helmet Law
Those who support changing the rules on helmet use believe that the issue is a matter of personal freedom. They believe that no adult should be required to wear a helmet if he or she does not want to. Those who want the helmet laws changed also argue that helmet mandates divert attention from other proven safety strategies such as awareness and education.
Opponents, however, are concerned that the risk of death will increase if the mandatory helmet law is repealed. Opponents argue that the current law is working well, and there is plenty of evidence to support the claim. The CDC, for example, indicates that North Carolina leads in the United States in terms of both money saved and lives saved as a result of the helmet law.
Further, opponents of the change to the helmet laws indicate that states that have relaxed their helmet laws have seen an increase in both deaths and brain injuries. This increases the Medicaid costs for the state, and of course also results in more people coping with serious injuries.
With the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reporting that the number of motorcycle accident fatalities has been on the rise nationwide for 14 of the past 15 years, there are strong arguments to be made that nothing should be done to reduce motorcycle safety. The GHSA data also shows that just this past year a nine percent increase in the number of fatalities was reported.
Regardless of what the law is, we want all riders to be safe. But unfortunately, accidents happen all the time through no fault of your own.