Tag Archives: motorcycles

Motorcycle helmet bill crashes again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to allow motorcyclists to ride Tennessee roads without safety helmets has been defeated in a Senate committee.

The Finance Committee on Tuesday voted 6-5 against the bill sponsored by Sen. Kerry Roberts (SB925). The Springfield Republican argued that ending the helmet law for insured riders who are at least 21 years old would be a boon to tourism in the state.

Opponents argued that police would have no way of knowing which riders held proper medical coverage, and that state hospitals would be left to cover the cost of treating the brain injuries of uninsured motorcyclists.

Biker helmet repeal bill is back for 21st year

From a Richard Locker report:

For 20 years, a small cadre of motorcyclists — some in coats and ties, some in black leather jackets — have descended on the State Capitol asking lawmakers to repeal Tennessee’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law, which since 1967 has required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets on Tennessee streets and highways.

And every year, they’ve left in defeat, after successive heads of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the state Department of Health, emergency room doctors and others present lawmakers the latest statistics on deaths and severe brain injuries suffered by motorcyclists in accidents without helmets — and on the costs of their medical care to taxpayers.

The fight resumes Tuesday, when the House Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on the latest bill, House Bill 700, which allows anyone 21 and up with medical or health insurance other than TennCare to ride without a helmet. The bill also prohibits police from issuing a citation for violating the helmet law unless a citation is issued for some other traffic violation.

Tennessee is one of 19 states plus the District of Columbia requiring all riders to wear helmets. Twenty-eight states require only underage riders, under either 18 or 21, to wear helmets. And Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no laws at all requiring helmet use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Most states enacted mandatory helmet laws the same year Tennessee did, after Congress required them to qualify for federal safety and highway funds. In the decades since, Congress has lifted the financial penalties, reimposed them and lifted them again.

Motorcycle helmet bill clears House Budget sub

Legislation that would allow motorcycle riders older than 21 to ride without a helmet won approval made another step toward passage Wednesday, reports The Tennessean. The bill (HB700) cleared Transportation Committees in both the House and Senate last year, but stalled in the Finance Committees of both chambers.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, received little discussion on Wednesday when the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee took up the issue for a second time.

Reedy once again called the legislation a “freedom of choice bill” as he introduced it before the committee held a voice vote. Although there were some who voted against the measure, the majority were in favor, sending the bill to the full House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

…The committee’s approval comes a week after the bill received both praise and criticism from people such as the bill’s sponsor and Col. Tracy Trott, the head of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

After attending Wednesday’s meeting, Trott reiterated his opposition.

“We know it’s going to kill more people in our state,” he said. “It’s not a question of if it’s going to kill more people. It’s just a question of how many more.”

Trott said it is his job to lower the state’s fatality rate, which is why he has opposed it for the past several years. Although he said his fight against the bill has largely been successful, Trott said the fight against it becomes a little more difficult each year.

Nonetheless, Trott said he is hopeful the bill will be defeated when it moves to the full finance committee.
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Revived motorcycle helmet bill is dead again

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to do away with Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet requirement has been shelved for the year.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jay Reedy of Erin was deferred on Tuesday until the first calendar of next year’s legislative session.

The move follows a bumpy path for the companion bill in the Senate, where it first failed on a 4-4 vote but was later resurrected for another vote and advanced on a 5-4 vote.

Under the proposal, motorcycle riders at least 21 years old carrying private health insurance would be able to decide if they want to wear a helmet.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol opposes the bill because it wouldn’t allow troopers to verify the age and insurance status of motorcyclists.

About 167,000 motorcycles are registered in Tennessee.

Motorcycle helmet bill revived in Senate committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that seeks to do away with Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet requirement was revived Wednesday and is advancing in the state Legislature despite concerns about how it would be enforced.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield (SB925) passed the Senate Transportation Committee 5-4. Last month, the measure failed after it received a 4-4 vote. (Note: Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, switched her vote from no to yes on the second occasion. Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, who abstained the first time, voted no on the second vote.)

However, the sponsor was able to get a majority of signatures from lawmakers on the nine-member panel to place the measure back on the committee’s calendar.

Under the proposal, motorcycle riders at least 21 years old would be able to decide if they want to wear a helmet.

Roberts’ bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Finance Subcommittee.

Roberts said he’s not sure if the legislation will pass this session, but he plans to talk with members of upcoming committees to see what their concerns are.

“This is a victory for the people of Tennessee who want to be able to live their lives without the government micromanaging everything they do,” Roberts said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott said his agency opposes the bill because it won’t allow officers to verify the age of motorcycle riders.

“It becomes a secondary violation,” Trott said. “Under the proposed legislation, we can’t stop someone just to see if they are under 21 for not wearing a helmet, so it’s difficult for us to tell the difference between a 23-year-old and a 19-year-old.”

There were about 167,000 motorcycles registered in Tennessee at the start of this year.

Motorbiking without helmet: ‘That’s one of our sacred rights: to be stupid”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to do away with Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet requirement has failed in the state Senate.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield, argued that it should be up to any adult rider with private health insurance to decide whether to ride without a helmet.

In Roberts’ words: “I happen to think he’s stupid if he rides a motorcycle without a helmet, but that’s one of our sacred rights: to be stupid.”

The measure received a 4-4 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Bills need to receive a majority of the nine-member panel to advance.

There were about 167,000 motorcycles registered in Tennessee as of at the start of this year.

Bill allowing motorcyclists to ride between slow cars is withdrawn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to allow Tennessee motorcyclists to ride between slow-moving cars has been withdrawn by the Senate sponsor.

Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Tracy of Shelbyville said the measure was withdrawn Wednesday by fellow Republican Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald.

California is the only state that allows motorcycles to travel between traffic lanes.

A recent study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, on behalf of the California Highway Patrol and the state’s Office of Traffic Safety found the practice generally poses no more danger than riding a motorcycle unless the motorcyclist is riding 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic.

It also found that while lane splitters are less likely to be rear-ended by car drivers, they are more likely to rear-end other vehicles.

Note: The bill is SB1281, sponsored in the House by Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville. The legislative website on Thursday says it’s been assigned to general sub.

Motorcycle helmet bill fails in Senate Finance

Legislation to allow a motorcyclist to ride without wearing a helmet under some circumstances failed in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.

The bill by Sen. Mike Bell (SB548) had won approval in the Transportation Committees of both the House and Senate, but but got only five yes votes versus six no votes in the Senate Finance Committee.

The measure, as amended, would have permitted persons aged 25 and older to get a sticker for their motorcycle for $50 that would have exempted them from current law mandating a helmet for riding a motorcycle. To get the sticker, they would also have to go through a safety course and show proof of insurance to cover $25,000 in medical expenses as well as liability insurance coverage.

Latest Attempt to Repeal Motorcycle Helmet Law Fails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The latest effort to rescind Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law for adult riders has failed for the year.
Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville asked the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday to place his measure on the panel’s first calendar of next year’s legislative session.
The House had previously sent the companion bill to a summer study committee.
Supporters argue that doing away with the helmet law could boost tourism in the state, but opponents point to the increased cost of treating head injuries for helmetless riders.