Proposed bill would weaken Tennessee's helmet law

(WBIR) This week at the Tennessee state capitol, lawmakers will consider a proposed bill that would weaken the state's motorcycle helmet law.

If passed, it would allow riders 25-years-old or older to ride without a helmet. Since 1967, all motorcyclists have been required to wear a helmet while riding in Tennessee.

Committees will review Senate Bill 548 and House Bill 44 this week.

AAA is against the bills. Don Lindsey, AAA Tennessee public affairs director, said many states that have repealed or weakened their helmet laws have seen a drastic shift.

"Helmet use drops dramatically. It just plummets. Head injuries, those go up dramatically. So we would be substantially reducing the safety of motorcycle riders, and everybody involved with motorcycle riders, and we would be going backwards in Tennessee," Lindsey said.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates Tennessee's existing helmet law saves 46 lives a year and $94 million.

"It's not just the motorcycle rider that's involved when there's a crash. There's all of the public safety people who have to come out and help that rider, there's the EMTs, there's the family of the rider," Lindsey said.

But many motorcyclists said it should be their choice.

"Honestly, it makes your head sweat and it can throw off your balance a little bit if you're turning to the left, turning to the right. You go into a lean too far, makes a big difference," said a Kingsmen Motorcycle Club Florida member, who calls himself "Bulldog."

This is not the first time a proposal like this has been presented; Lindsey said if the bill does not pass he expects it to be brought up again.

AAA is urging people to contact their legislators.

This Tuesday, March 25, the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee will consider SB 548. The House Finance, Ways and Means subcommittee will consider HB 44 on Wednesday, March 26.


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