Mo. lawmakers propose change to motorcycle helmet law - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Mo. lawmakers propose change to motorcycle helmet law

Some state lawmakers say helmets are costing the state tourism dollars. Some state lawmakers say helmets are costing the state tourism dollars.
Missouri is one of 19 states that requires all riders to wear a helmet. Missouri is one of 19 states that requires all riders to wear a helmet.
SCOTT CITY, MO (KFVS) -

When motorcycle riders cross into Missouri, they better be wearing a helmet.

Missouri is one of 19 states that requires all riders to wear a helmet, and some state lawmakers say that's costing the state tourism dollars.

Several state representatives want to let riders take their helmets off when they pass through Missouri, but only during the month of August.

That's because a half million riders from across the country are going to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota that month, and many of those riders won't go through Missouri simply because they don't want to wear a helmet.

"There's people, not only those who go to South Dakota for Sturgis, but for other rides, they will avoid a state that has a helmet law," said Jason Butler from Bootheel Harley-Davidson.

Missouri and Nebraska are the only states in the Midwest that require all riders to wear a helmet, and many riders will change their routes to South Dakota, to make sure they don't have to put one on.

And Butler says a lot of riders hardly ever cross the Missouri state line.

"Being right across the river from Illinois, we hear a lot from our customers that live on that side of the river who say the only time they put a helmet on is when they come over here," Butler said.

Rob Blondi  from Benton, Illinois says if he can ride his bike anywhere, he's always looking at the law.

"I pick one without a helmet law," he said.  "I think most people do. I know people who will specifically avoid helmet states when they're on a trip so they don't have to wear it."

Blondie says he knows helmets will keep him safe, and statistics from the Centers for Disease Control back that up.

Missouri ranks seventh in the nation for lives and money saved due to helmet use.

On the other hand, Illinois, which doesn't require helmets, ranks 47th in those categories.  And 83 percent of people who died in motorcycle crashes in 2010 in Illinois were not wearing a helmet.

But Blondi and Butler say for most riders, safety isn't the point.

"It's part of the culture where we feel free and all that stuff," Blondi said.

"It's like anything else. If you tell someone they have to do it, they don't want to do it. It's a freedom of choice thing," said Butler.

This isn't the first time lawmakers have tried to change Missouri's helmet law.

In 2009, a bill made it to Governor Jay Nixon's desk that would have allowed riders over 21 to ride without a helmet.  That bill was vetoed.

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