Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bill would repeal Nevada's mandatory motorcycle helmet law

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - It's been discussed in the Silver State several times, and on Thursday state lawmakers heard arguments about it again.

If passed, Senate Bill 142 would make helmets optional for motorcyclists who are at least 21 years old and have had a motorcycle license for a minimum of one year.

Proponents say it's about freedom. Those opposed say changing the law is simply too dangerous.

Pee-Larr Handley, president of the Motorcycle Awareness and Rider Safety organization, said he wouldn't be alive today if he hadn't been wearing a motorcycle during a crash a few years back.

“My take on the [bill] is, I think it's dangerous,” he said.

The bill was introduced by state Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks. Handley called the legislation dangerous.

“You can take a fall at walking speed, hit your head and kill yourself. You add speed to the equation, you're increasing your chances of a fatality,” Handley said.

Riders in some instances argue against helmets for safety reasons. It's been claimed that if a motorcyclist crashes with a helmet on, his or her chances of getting a spinal injury are increased.

Those opposed to helmet laws have also complained that the gear is confining. Handley said that what saved him when he crashed in Utah was a modular helmet.

“You stop at a stop light and push this button and flip it up, you have peripheral vision, you got open face, you can talk to other riders. When it's time to go you're ready to go. Flip it back down and it locks in place. You have the protection of a full face helmet again,” Handley said.

Some riders have suggested they can't afford helmets.

“Well, if you can't afford the gear and you can't afford a helmet, maybe you shouldn't be riding,” Handley said.

While Handley's helmet retails for about $900, BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas has helmets that start at $75.

This is Gustavson's eighth attempt to repeals Nevada's mandatory motorcycle helmet law. It has been on the books since 1972.

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