The annual effort to let most motorcyclists go without helmets has started in the legislature. Missouri has had a helmet law since 1967. The last time the legislature passed a repeal or partial repeal was 2009. Governor Nixon vetoed it.
It’s a tourism issue, say advocates of letting riders older than 21 go without helmets if they want to. Most of our neighboring states don’t have helmet laws, they say, and people from non-helmet states don’t come to Missouri because they have to wear helmets here.
For motorcyclist Terry McNutt, a member of a southwest Missouri Freedom of Road Riders club, it’s all about freedom. “There are times in the springs and summer when you can feel the wind blow through your hair. It’s just an incredible feeling of freedom,” he says.
But Doctor Gregory Folkert, an emergency medical specialist from Lake St. Louis, whose father died in a helmet-less motorcycle crash when Folkert was ten, says he knows better. He says has told more people “than you want to count” that their relative had been killed in a motorcycle accident. “I promise you, not one of them has ever said to me ‘well, he died with his hair blowing in the wind and being free. He died doing what he wanted to do.’ Nobody usually says anything; they just cry a lot,” he tells a Senate committee.
A state senate committee recommends the full senate pass the bill. It will be one of the first bills on the debate calendar.