Federal Government to Adopt Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

The American Motorcyclist Association reported on Nov 8, 2013, that a federal task force was about to recommend mandatory helmet laws for every state in the United States. This would be an effort to reduce the injuries, deaths, and financial consequences resulting from not wearing a motorcycle helmet. The AMA’s vice president for government relations, Wayne Allard, responded with a statement saying, “The AMA continues to strongly encourage the use of personal protective equipment, including gloves, sturdy footwear and a properly fitted motorcycle helmet certified by its manufacturer to meet federal safety standards. But we also believe that adults should have the right to voluntarily choose to wear a helmet.” The Community Preventive Services Task Force, which is appointed by and overseen by the CDC, is preparing to recommend that all states have universal helmet laws. At the moment, some states require motorcycle helmet use and some do not, and some only require them for certain age groups and under specific circumstances. If the federal government takes the Task Force’s recommendation and enacts the corresponding legislation, all motorcycle riders would be required to wear helmets. Currently, Colorado is one of the states not requiring helmets for those over 18. According to CO statute: Although helmets are proven to save lives, riders age 18 and over are not required to wear helmets in Colorado. However, if the motorcycle operator or passengers are under age 18, they must wear DOT-approved helmets. The reasons behind the Task Force’s recommendation are as follows: • They believe a universal helmet mandate would reduce motorcyclist deaths and injuries. • Injuries for helmeted cyclists would presumably be less devastating than for unhelmeted riders, so the health care costs would not be as high. • And if the wearing of helmets reduces the severity of injuries, that would also result in fewer missed days of work for injured riders. In opposition to this proposed change of federal law, the AMA’s Allard noted that mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes, which is the thrust of their program for cyclist safety. “The AMA supports actions that help riders avoid a crash from occurring, including voluntary rider education, improved licensing and testing, and expanded motorist awareness programs,” said Allard. “This strategy is widely recognized and pursued in the motorcycling community.”