New Missouri law guts helmet requirement for motorcyclists

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 8:54 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 15, 2020 at 12:39 PM CDT
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Motorcyclists in Missouri who meet certain requirements soon will be able to ride without a helmet.

A bill signed into law Tuesday by Republican Gov. Mike Parson waives the helmet requirement for anyone who is at least 26 years old. Motorcycle riders who don’t wear a helmet also must have health insurance coverage. Riders with instructional permits must still wear helmets.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety say allowing the repeal of the helmet requirement is a bad decision. The group says in other states where helmet requirements have been lifted, fatalities climbed and hospitalizations for motorcyclists with head trauma increased. They say it could increase health care costs for all Missourians. They also call the law “toothless”, saying youth-specific helmet laws are often ignored completely since it’s hard for law enforcement to estimate a rider’s age. The law says officers can’t stop a rider solely because they believe they may be in violation of the helmet law. And the group questions how law enforcement will be able to determine if the rider has the required insurance.

Missouri Senator Eric Burlison, who supported the bill, says he was thrilled to see the legislation signed into law, because he believes wearing a helmet should be a personal choice. Advocates have fought for the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet for years. He also believes the helmet law may have had a negative effect on tourism over the past several years. Our bordering states do not require helmets, and Burlison says riders may have just avoided riding through Missouri.

“I think, let those who ride decide, is my view on that,” said Michael Schutt, motorcyclist. “I’m not totally against it, but I do like a riding without it, and I do like riding sometimes with it, depends on the circumstances.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says it’s too early for them to say how they will enforce the law, which goes into effect August 28th.

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