Motorcycle helmets and the laws governing them are always contentious. From their high-water mark back in the 1970s, mandatory state laws governing the wearing of helmets for motorcycle riders have been slowly eroding. A recent proposal in the Missouri House of Representatives would further erode the Missouri law. The change would allow motorcycle riders, 21-year-old and older to decide whether they want to wear a helmet.

Currently, all riders must wear a helmet, even those who are just passing through west on I-70 or heading south to Lake of the Ozarks. Many riders feel wearing a helmet is a personal choice and that choice is part of the freedom of the open road. To many members of the Highway Patrol, Sherriff’s Departments and emergency medical personnel, who have to deal with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident, helmets seem like common sense.

Some motorcyclists point to the need to improve safety training for riders, and ways to reduce drunk and drugged driving. And those are relevant points, but most safety advocates would argue that improving motorcycle safety is a package, and that removing the one physical protection available, the helmet, is foolish.

No matter how experienced a rider, there is always the risk of overconfidence bias and complacency when occurring.

On a warm spring day, riding over dry pavement on a picturesque road through the rolling hills of Missouri, it is easy to let the mind wander, and a rider can forget that is highly abrasive asphalt that is moving at 80 feet per second inches from his or her feet.

The bill still has to clear the House and the Senate before the Governor would have a choice to sign the it, and make it law, or veto it.

Source:, “Missouri House Considers Motorcycle Helmet Law Change,” May 1, 2014