There’s been a fight brewing in Nashville over helmet regulations for bikers, and it came to a head on Tuesday.
Republican Rep. Judd Matheny announced to the House Transportation Subcommittee that he’s withdrawing his controversial bill.
Matheny’s bill sought to end helmet requirements for adults in the state of Tennessee. Many people supported the bill for a variety of reasons, including:
- They question the safety benefits of helmets in the first place.
- They believe requiring helmets – as Tennessee currently does – hurts tourism efforts.
- They feel the current law infringes on drivers’ rights to make their own decisions.
- They worry helmets limit peripheral vision.
The current law (PDF), which passed in 2005, requires any motorcycle driver or passenger to wear a crash helmet that meets federal safety standards.
Supporters of the helmet requirement believe that helmets save lives and prevent the serious brain damage that can come from even a mild motorcycle crash.
From an economic standpoint, the state of Tennessee often picks up the tab for bikers who can’t afford the long-term care required after a traumatic head injury.
A legislative analysis projected that reversing the requirement would not only increase head injuries, but would also cost TennCare $1.1 million. TennCare – Tennessee’s Medicaid system – spent $3.1 million on motorcycle injuries last year. $1.8 million of that money went to brain injuries.
(See more of Tennessee’s traffic safety laws.)
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