Missouri motorcyclists could go helmet-free - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Missouri motorcyclists could go helmet-free

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PALMYRA, Mo. (WGEM) -

Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle isn't a choice in Missouri, it's the law, but that could soon change.

A new bill would allow riders more freedom, but safety advocates say it's putting lives in danger.

The bill would give motorcycle riders 21 and older the right to not wear a helmet.

Mike Lightel has been riding bikes for more than 53 years and says he's never been one to wear a helmet.

"But, I think helmets are a good thing for kids under 21 because of their lack of experience," said Lightel.

Lightel said although he thinks young riders should wear helmets, he doesn't think the government should have to mandate it.

"Big brother has been watching over us for a long time and it's time they backed off a little bit," said Lightel.

As the law stands now, all riders are required to wear a helmet and Palmyra Police Chief Eddie Bogue thinks it should stay that way.

"You're riding a motorcycle or even in a car not buckled up, the chances of you being severely injured or even death is imminent," said Bogue.

In fact, Bogue says he rarely ever sees minor motorcycle accidents because the rider is usually thrown off the bike, making the need for a helmet even greater.

"Once your thrown, your head can come in contact with many different things including the pavement, telephone poles, other fixed objects," said Bogue. "You really don't have much of a chance."

Nonetheless, Lightel says, experienced riders should be able to make the decision whether to wear a helmet on their own.

"By the time your 21 you should have enough sense to be careful," said Lightel. 

The bill needs one more House vote before moving to the Senate. There is currently no law on the books in the states of Illinois and Iowa.

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