Bill to repeal Missouri's motorcycle helmet restrictions back up for debate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- "About every state around the state of Missouri right now is helmet free," said Joe Widmer, Legislative Coordinator with Freedom of Road Riders.

It's something Widmer would like to see see change, and an old bill making new rounds could finally make it happen.

"He has not expressed any concerns," Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield said about Governor Mike Parson. "He has voted for this language as a legislator."

Last year, Parson vetoed Burlison's bill after language was added to allow courts to take away drivers’ licenses if people didn't pay fines for minor traffic offenses.

Under this year's bill, anyone over the age of 18 with proper insurance could ride helmet-free.

"This past year in 2019 we were up to 119 motorcycle fatalities. That was from 107 the previous year," said George Tart, Director of the Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program.

Those in the medical and insurance industries believe that number would go up if the helmet law was repealed.

"The preventable things that we use currently are things like seat belts and helmets. That should be mandatory," said Dr. Lisa Gilmore with the Missouri Emergency Nurse Association.

Despite those statistics, Widmer says supporters of the legislation want it, because it gives riders the freedom of choice.

"It gives people an opportunity to enjoy our state with a little more freedom, and it might even attract some more riders from other states to come in to Missouri and participate in a lot of events that we have," Widmer said.