The Missouri State legislature has passed a bill that, if signed, would repeal the state’s mandatory helmet regulation, thus allowing riders over the age of 21 who are traveling on city roads, to do so without a helmet. The passage of this bill is naturally divisive, with advocates of individual liberties and safety experts squarely on opposite sides of the table. Should personal liberty advocates win this debate, the bill would make Missouri 1 of 28 states with such a helmet law on the books.
The issue of helmet laws has become further complicated beyond the safety/personal freedom arguments. The Federal government has a say in the matter be being able to withhold how much money it invests in states for highway maintenance and repair. States that do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets get significantly less funding, which means the state must pull from its coffers in order to maintain interstate roads.
Of the 50 states in the Union, 20 states currently mandate helmets for all riders, 27 states require them only for riders under a certain age, while the 3 remaining states have no laws regarding helmet use whatsoever. The bill being proposed in Missouri would take the state out of the first category, and into the second. As it reads now, the Missouri bill would mandate that riders under 21 wear helmets, and that all riders wear helmets when traveling on the interstate, leaving adult riders free to ride unprotected on local streets.
This revision to the law would expire on August 28, 2014, requiring state lawmakers to review the situation afresh, otherwise the mandate would automatically go back into effect.