Missouri has a law that all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear protective headgear.
If Gov. Mike Parson signs Senate Bill 147, a bill passed by the General Assembly, that law will be repealed.
Twice while in the Legislature, Gov. Parson voted to eliminate the helmet requirement so the conclusion has been made that he will sign the bill, which was approved by the House and Senate.
Under the measure, adults with proof of health insurance would be permitted to ride helmet-free. Anyone under age 18 still would be required to wear a helmet.
Proponents of eliminating the helmet requirement say it is a “personal freedom” issue. Opponents say doing away with the requirement will have fatal results. They say states that have done away with the requirement have seen fatalities increase by more than a third. That is based on records from the Institute for Highway Safety, according to the Kansas City Star.
The Institute said in its latest report on motorcycle fatalities, 5,172 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2017. That was more than double the number of motorcycle deaths in 1997. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2017.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets cut the risk of a motorcycle fatality by 37 percent and are about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, the Star said.
With or without the law some motorcycle operators will wear protective headgear. However, there is no doubt that others will not.
Wearing protective headgear while operating a motorcycle makes sense and there is no question of the safety merits. We agree with those who oppose doing away with helmets. It is just basic public safety.