Tennessee House, Senate to discuss motorcycle helmet law

Tennessee House, Senate to discuss motorcycle helmet law

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By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Both the state House and the state Senate are set to discuss Tennessee's motorcycle helmet law this coming week.

Bills have been proposed that would change or repeal the state's current law, which requires all motorcyclists and riders, regardless of age, to wear a helmet.

House transportation committee members will hear testimony Tuesday about the proposed change, which could mean motorcyclists over the age of 21 would have the choice whether or not to wear a helmet.

AAA doesn't want to see a change in the current law. The group says it will continue to fight against it.

"In the states that repealed their bill, the usage rate went from about 96% to about 55%. Not only that, but head injuries involved with motorcycle crashes dramatically increased," said AAA spokesperson Don Lindsey.

The group says the fight isn't new, but they won't back down as long as proposed changes keep popping up.

"It is just something that we have seen enormous cost increases, enormous increases in the fatality rates, enormous increases in tragedy, and it doesn't have to happen," Lindsey said.

Motorcyclists have their own views on the law, and some say they'd like to see it change.

"I can see the purpose of it, I don't necessarily agree with it. I would rather have a choice of whether or not I want to wear a helmet," said Jack Garrison, who has been riding motorcycles for about 55 years.

"I dislike it. I think we ought to have a choice, especially anyone over 21. You're a grown adult, you ought to be able to make your own decisions," said long-time motorcyclist Ray Tipton.

There are also riders who support the current law.

"Whether they had a helmet law or not, I would wear one. I value my head quite a bit. The rest of my body won't function without it, so I think the helmet law is a good thing," said motorcyclist Chester Anderson.

Some riders who disagree with the law understand why it exists.

"If it says I've got to wear a helmet, I'll wear a helmet. It's not a problem," Tipton added.

The state Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss the "Motorcyclist Liberty Restoration Act" Wednesday.

AAA isn't the only organization scheduled to testify before the state House Transportation Committee Tuesday.

Representatives from the Tennessee Department of Health and UT Medical Center are also expected to speak.

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