Missouri motorcyclists still have to wear their helmets. The legislature has again rejected a proposal to make helmets optional for riders. older than 21.

This time one of the arguments has been that state law picks on motorcyclists. Supporters of repeal say laws don’t require people in cars to wear helmets–especially those who drive or ride in convertibles. And they argue that if vehicle safety is to be the goal, cars would have to have five-point seat belts and be limited to 35 miles an hour. They warn of taking arguments to logical extremes.

Critics of the legislation tried to change it to require motorcyclists who do not use helmets to carry one-million dollars in insurance. Senate Sponsor Lu Ann Ridgeway of Smithville says that argument singles out a certain group and is impractical–those who ride without helmets. She says the proposal is "nonsensical" because the insurance would apply only on those days motorcyclists go without their helmets.

The sponsor of the million-dollar amendment, Senator Harry Kennedy of St. Louis, says he was just trying to protect another segment of the population from bearing a burden—taxpayers who might have to foot the bill for a head-injured motorcyclist who needs state rehabilitation or even long-term state care.

Another Senator says Ridgeway wants to EXEMPT a group, nothing that state law does require insurance for car and truck drivers.

All of the arguments became academic anyway because Ridgeway did not have time to get a vote on this year’s bill before the legislative session ended.

The repeal bill has passed only once. But it was vetoed by Governor Carnahan in 1996.


Download Bob Priddy’s story (:61 mp3)