PASCO, Wash. - A proposed bill which would allow people over the age of 21 to ride a motorcycle without a helmet was heard before a senate committee in Olympia on Monday.
Shelly Baldwin legislative and media coordinator with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission said this would bring major concerns to the state of Washington.
“The helmet is the only thing that really is available to help them become safer so if we take that best practice away we will most likely see more fatalities which cost everybody and moves us away from our goal of target zero,” said Baldwin.
According to Baldwin the State of Washington has a 96% helmet use rate saving Washington over $552 million dollars in economic and comprehensive cost.
“When you have an unhelmet motorcycle crash, if the person survives the traumatic brain injury that you’re likely to have been avoided if they had a helmet on, it tends to be very expensive and tends to run out of most insurance plans and then becomes a burden on the state,” said Shelly.
Shelly said a universal helmet law increases the use of helmets but once it becomes partial, enforcement will be difficult.
“If you have a partial use officers can't tell and can't stop a motorcyclist who doesn't have a helmet on because they don't know how old that person is,” she said.
"We've put parameters in the bill that if a person is 21 or older and operates a motorcycle without a helmet they need to carry a motor vehicle liability," said Brown.
Action News reached out to one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Sharon Brown who said it gives motorcyclist an opportunity to make the decision themselves.
Brown said, “It is really about giving motorcyclist the freedom to ride it’s about freedom to choose it’s not mandating to do one thing or another it’s really about the freedom”.
SB 5007 will still have to be voted on by the senate transportation committee.