The annual effort to repeal Missouri’s helmet law for motorcycle riders is underway with a Senate committee considering a bill – SB 27 - sponsored by Senator Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville). Under the proposal, only those 21 years of age or older would be allowed to shed the helmet.
During testimony, Ridgeway told the panel it’s a matter of choice, insisting Missourians should be allowed to make those choices without interference from what she calls a "nanny state" affecting one segment of society – motorcycle riders.
Ridgeway says if the real goal is to save lives and prevent injuries, Missourians should be forced to wear protective headgear in automobiles.
"The number one cause of head injuries in the state of Missouri is automobile accidents," said Ridgeway, "So we should all, under that theory, if it is the gold standard, should have to wear helmets inside a passenger automobile. Now we all know that is ludicrous."
Kate Downey a brain injury specialist at the University of Missouri’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center in Columbia, offered a different view. She points out it is not just death from head injuries that must be considered, it is brain damage.
"When people sometimes don’t wear their helmets they’re kind of at the infantile level," testified Downey. "Someone has to clean them up when they’ve moved their bowels or bladder and someone has to move them every two hours to prevent bed sores that can eventually kill them."
The hearing ended with the panel taking no vote on the bill.