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Motorcyclists still must wear helmets


12:31 AM PST on Tuesday, January 13, 2004




By JIM MILLER / Sacramento Bureau


SACRAMENTO - Bikers lost another fight Monday to change the state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.


The Assembly Transportation Committee rejected a measure by Assemblyman John Longville, D-San Bernardino, that would have exempted people older than 18 from the state's helmet requirements.


In what has become a legislative ritual, hundreds of leather-clad motorcyclists descended on the Capitol to rally against a law they consider an attack on personal freedom. They contend the law does very little, if anything, to improve motorcyclist safety.


Confronting them, though, was the same bloc of helmet-law supporters who argue that the rule has almost halved the number of deaths and injuries among motorcyclists since it took effect a dozen years ago. Most of the committee's Democrats joined with one Republican in voting down Longville's measure.


"We're not going to go away. We're going to keep coming," said Dave Hastings, a Hesperia auto shop owner and teacher who flew to Sacramento to urge support for the bill.


Other Inland motorcyclists rode the whole way.


Hastings and others complained that a helmet is too hot and restricts visibility and hearing.


But Assemblyman John J. Benoit, R-Palm Desert, said he learned during his years in the CHP that motorcycle helmets save lives.


"We have a lot of laws, some of which impinge on basic freedoms," said Benoit, who broke with committee Republicans to oppose the bill. "A vote to repeal this is a vote that will kill a lot of people."


The measure's fortunes received no boost from Gov. Schwarzenegger, who owns three motorcycles and who powered a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy - sans helmet - during "Terminator 2." The Republican governor supports the helmet laws on the books, his office said.


Longville, though, accused the state of singling out motorcyclists while leaving alone enthusiasts of other risky pastimes such as surfing and skiing.


Adopted in 1991, the state's motorcycle helmet law stems from federal threats to withhold highway improvement dollars from any state without a helmet requirement.


Four years later, though, the federal government dropped the rule.


But the California law stayed in place.


Information provided to the committee by the CHP showed that motorcyclist deaths fell from 512 in 1991 before the law took effect to 274 in 2002.


But bikers contend that the drop reflects a decline in motorcycle riders, not the helmet law.


Adding a morbid note to Monday's debate was that, unbeknownst to Longville, his bill contained language that would have allowed authorities to harvest organs from dead motorcyclists - regardless of whether the person had registered as an organ donor. The lawmaker demanded that the wording be removed.


"A lot of us are organ donors, but don't make us be one," said Leon Dailey, 55, of Woodcrest.




:angry:  What else do they want to decide for me ???  :veryangry:

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Here in SC, we have NO helmet laws.


There is a price. Insurance is very high. Companies only provide insurance on motorcycles because they are forced to by the state insurance commision, but it is nice to have a choice. OF course can't blame all the high price on helmet laws, car insurance is high too.....mainly due to some of the highest accident/fatality rates in the country. In conclusion, if you wanna have some fun, come on down!

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No helmet law in New Hampshire.  Insurance is a far cry from what I was paying in Massachusetts where there is a helmet law.  I have a 2001 Scout.


Massachusetts Insurance (W/ $500 deductible)


$1,300 per year


New Hampshire Insurance (W/ $250 dollar deductible)


$384.00 per year


I believe helmets can reduce death and injury to a point.  But it shouldn't be `forced' on us.

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well, that is what I shoulda said outright. The no helmet law is a great excuse to charge higher rates, and that is just what it is.
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I once read somewhere that the highest number of organ donors are motorcyle riders. If the are so hard up for organs then pehaps they should tag that little rule on to un-insured and under-insured cage drivers as well. there are a lot more of them than there are of us....
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