Mo. Motorcyclists Respond to "Helmet Holiday" Bill

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COLUMBIA - Motorcyclists responded Wednesday to a proposed "Helmet Holiday" bill by saying that wearing a helmet should always be a personal choice.

The Missouri House of Representatives proposed a bill that would suspend the state's helmet requirement during the month of August.

Ron Schieferdecker, assistant sales manager for Mid America Harley-Davidson, said as a rider he believes it should be a freedom of right to make a personal choice on helmets.

"I think the fact that the state is looking to change the law just for August, just for the revenue, said a lot about what that laws stands for. If they are willing to change for August for additional revenue, why would they not make the choice year round for people to decide for themselves to wear a helmet or not, regardless the revenue," Schieferdecker said.

The bill's supporters said the "helmet holiday" would appeal to bikers who gather in South Dakota every year for the Sturgis Rally. Supporters said it would allow motorcyclists to ride through Missouri, which would promote tourism and economic development in the state.

"It's pretty common for Harley riders to stop at every store along the way to pick up a shirt, to pick up poker chips, stuff like that to say they have been to that Harley store. But there are people who do avoid the state of Missouri because they do have to carry a helmet with them, if they come from a state that does not require wearing helmets," Schieferdecker said.

Opponents of the bill argue head injuries are head injuries, regardless of what month it is, and they are usually fatal.

In 2009, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill that would repeal Missouri's motorcycle helmet law, but Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it because of increased health care costs and safety issues.