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Don Hahnfeldt files bill requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets

in Statewide by

A Villages Republican has filed legislation that would require motorcyclists to wear helmets.

Rep. Don Hahnfeldt filed a bill (HB 6009) Monday to require all riders to wear helmets when operating a motorcycle. The bill strikes the section of the law that current allows riders to operate a motorcycle without a helmet.

Under current law, a “person over 21 … may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear” as long as the person is covered by an insurance policy that provides at least $10,000 in medical benefits for “injuries incurred as result of a crash while operating or riding a motorcycle.”

Florida Today reported in May that 450 motorcycle drivers or passengers died in accidents. The newspaper reported that 210 of those were confirmed to not be wearing a helmet.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Twenty-eight states have laws that require some motorcyclists to wear a helmet, while three states — Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire — have no laws mandating helmet use.

States were required to put helmet use laws in place in the 1960s in order to qualify for some federal safety programs and highway construction funds. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the requirement worked and by the early 1970s nearly all of the states had universal helmet laws. In 1976, states lobbied Congress to stop the transportation department from assessing fines on states without helmet laws.

Under Hahnfeldt’s proposal, riding without a helmet would be a “noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation.”

A Senate companion has not yet been filed.

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