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Lawmakers Hear Arguments For, and Against Motorcycle Helmets

By September 25, 2013General Posts



By Frankie Barbato/Daily News Correspondent The MetroWest Daily News 

 BOSTON — Even though he was injured in a motorcycle accident, Rick Gleason thinks that Massachusetts motorcyclists should have a choice about wearing a helmet.

Gleason, who started riding motorcycles behind his father at age 5, testified Tuesday on behalf of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association in support of legislation that would lift the state’s requirement that all motorcyclists wear helmets.

“The bills in no way direct you to not wear a helmet, they just give you a choice,” he said.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation is considering two separate bills that would make helmet use optional. One, filed, by state Rep. Marc Lombardo, D-Billerica, would require riders and passengers under the age of 18 to wear a helmet; the other submitted by state Rep. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, would set mandatory helmet use under the age of 21. Both lawmakers filed their bills at the request of constituents.

Gleason said the choice of to wear a helmet goes beyond issues of personal safety, noting that the state could be losing revenue from motorcyclists who often choose to ride their motorcycles in states other than Massachusetts that don’t require helmets.

Instead of driving a motorcycle to vacation on Cape Cod, for example, he argued that motorcyclists now ride to places such as New Hampshire that do not mandate helmets.

Massachusetts has required helmets for both drivers and passengers of any age since 1998. There are about 400,000 registered motorcycles in the state.

Testifying against the proposal, Thomas Higbee, a former police officer from Florida, spoke to his own experience riding motorcycles.

“(Without a helmet) you’re unprotected whether you are an adult or a kid,” he said.

Higbee, now of Medfield, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1993 while wearing a helmet and only riding 29 mph on his motorcycle. As a result, the 51-year-old now suffers from memory loss. Speaking haltingly, he said when his head first hit the pavement, his helmet cracked open and could not protect him from another hit on the ground.

Without a helmet, Higbee argued, a motorcyclist’s head would hit the asphalt right away, increasing the risk of life-threatening injuries. He said that because motorcycles do not have seat belts, helmets are necessary to protect against a motorcycle’s momentum.

“It’s your choice,” he said. “But it’s your safety.”

from Rogue

Of all places Massachusetts should be the bastion of Freedom. What is safety without Freedom? It’s imprisonment. –Bandit