Should motorcyclists have to wear a helmet? Nebraska Legislature may say no

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature would allow motorcycle riders to forgo a helmet.

All of Nebraska’s surrounding states have similar laws, which allow riders over a set age limit to decide when to wear a helmet.

“If this bill passes, LB 91, it will actually be one of the most restrictive helmet laws in the United States still,” said Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair, who introduced the bill.

Hansen’s bill would require all motorcycle riders to wear eye protection or have a windshield on the front of their motorcycle.

But if they take a safety training course, anyone 21 or older can remove their helmet.

Right now, Nebraska law requires all riders to wear a helmet at all times.

Opponents of the bill say it should stay that way.

“We want people to be safe on the roads, and helmets is a sure way to decrease the numbers of brain injuries and fatalities on the road and to keep drivers safe,” said Brian Ortner, a member of the Highway Safety Coalition.

Hansen said helmets do help, but he wants to give riders the freedom to make their own choice, saying it won’t affect other drivers.

“There’s a lot of things in life that can injure us,” he said. “It depends on your philosophy on how much the government should protect us. And I think this is just an individual choice or liberty for you to wear or not wear your helmet.”

And Hansen said the safety training would be beneficial to the drivers.

He said the eye protection and windshields will protect other drivers on the road. Keeping bugs and other debris out of motorcyclists’ eyes will prevent them from endangering others on the road, Hansen said.

“Typically, when you get above 35 mph, the helmet doesn’t do as much for you as you think it would,” he said. “And really, what we see most motorcycle injuries coming from is other drivers running into motorcyclists.”

Ortner said helmets can save families from dealing with the severe injury or death of a loved one.

“Motorcycle helmets, when you look at numbers, it reduces head injury by 69% and lowers the risk of death by 42%,” Ortner said. “Saving one life seems to be an easy equation to make it all worth it.”

The bill will be discussed in a committee hearing open to the public on Tuesday.

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