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Missouri House Approves Bill to Repeal Helmet Law

  Bill Kempker always has his helmet on when riding a motorcycle. It is required by Missouri law that all the motorcyclists on the state highway wear a helmet. But once he leaves Missouri and travels through states like Arkansas, where wearing helmet is an option instead of requirement, he would take the helmet off.

But Kempker and other motorcyclists might be able to do that in Missouri soon. The Missouri House on Monday approved the bill HB 523 by a vote of 97-57. The bill would allow riders who are at least 21 years old to go without helmets. 

Kempker is the legislative coordinator of Freedom of Road Riders, Missouri’s largest motorcycle rights organization. He is currently working on getting support for the bill from the Capitol. 

Republican Rep. Eric Burlison is the sponsor of the helmet bill. He said the bill supports motorcycle riders’ freedom of choice. Being in a car is safer than being a motorcycle, he said, but people are allowed to take risky activities including motorcycling, so should they have to right to make their own decisions about helmet.

“Government’s job is not to be your parent. If you are an adult, you are responsible for yourself and the actions that you take.”

Once the bill is passed, Burlison said Missouri could boost the economy by attracting motorcyclists from other states. But the real reason to support the bill, he said, is to protect personal freedom.

Kempker said people choose to ride without a helmet because they feel good doing that.
“Wind is blowing your hair, just the way you feel when you are not riding. You can hear better, you don’t get as hot, I just prefer it that way.” 

Opponents of the bill are mostly concerned about the safety issues. But Kempker said helmets are not going to protect motorcycle riders anyway when driving at a speed of 70 mph, and they are aware of that.

“We are riding the motorcycles. We know what the dangers are on a motorcycle. We know what can happen.”

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

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