Committee votes down helmet law repeal

Posted April 29, 2015

Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, speaks to the House Rules Committee during a debate over repealing North Carolina's motorcycle helmet law.

— The House Rules Committee has voted down a bill that would have given motorcycle riders over age 21 the choice of whether to wear a helmet.

Brought forward by Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, the measure was the latest in a long line of attempts over the past decade to roll back the state's current "universal" helmet law.

"When you look at the statistics, there's simply no weight on one side or the other," Torbett argued.

But doctors groups, the AAA and insurers all argue that helmets save lives and reduce medical costs.

"We've had doctors come up here, and all of them say it is the worst idea in the world not to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle," Rep. Leo Daughtry, R-Johnston, said.

Torbett argued that only 41 percent of fatalities nationally happen to riders not wearing helmets.

But Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, pointed to studies showing that helmets save lives and money. As he did, he showed off the helmet of a rider whose life it had saved and spoke about a childhood friend who died after a motorcycle accident.

The measure failed on a voice vote. Although very few bills are ever absolutely dead, it will be a lot harder for lawmakers to pass a helmet law repeal measure this session.


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