An effort to repeal the North Carolina helmet law for all motorcyclists did not pass legislative muster in May. Instead, lawmakers agreed to review the advisability of pulling the plug on the mandatory helmet requirement.
In the recently failed proposal to repeal the helmet law, advocates asked that only novice motorcyclists or those under age 21 be required to wear a helmet. Helmet use would otherwise be optional but riders would be required to carry insurance to cover the first $10,000 of medical expenses incurred after a motorcycle accident.
Discussions of helmet laws generally center on safety and freedom of choice. There is no question that helmets save lives. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011, and had the potential to save more than 700 additional lives had helmets been used.
Staying safe on a motorcycle is no accident. Consider these tips to stay safe and enjoy the ride at the same time:
- Wear a helmet
- Know your skill level and ride a motorcycle to match that skill
- Follow rules of the road
- Do not drive impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue
- Assume other motorists do not see you
Proponents of optional helmet use vow to return to the legislature to fight on. In the meantime, regardless of your opinion, wear your helmet. If you are in an accident, you will be glad you did.