WHAT OTHERS SAY: New motorcycle laws reinforce common sense

Saturday, June 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

The insurance industry calculates risk.

To that end, the industry thrives on data in its continuing effort to calculate more precisely.

A new insurance industry study reinforces our argument that relaxing motorcycle helmet laws — which failed during the recent Missouri legislative session — would be detrimental to public safety and public costs.

The Associated Press reported the average medical claim from a motorcycle crash increased by more than one-fifth after the state of Michigan relaxed its regulations.

A change that required only riders younger than 21 to wear helmets resulted in a 22 percent hike in claims in comparison to four similar states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. The study was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

We commend Missouri lawmakers for rejecting a law similar to the Michigan statute. The study quantifies common sense.

Nevertheless, motorcycle riders in Missouri fared well during the recent legislative session.

Approved legislation included bills to:

  • Declare May as Motorcycle Awareness Month, an observance to promote road safety.
  • Permit brake lights to change brightness, but not for more than five seconds, to create a visual effect designed to help drivers identify motorcycles.
  • Prohibit law enforcement personnel from establishing checkpoints specifically aimed at motorcycle riders.

These measures promote safety and/or fairness.

We concede the state’s public safety laws remain inequitable; helmets are required for motorcycle riders, but the seat belt law for motorists is a secondary offense.

The solution, however, is not to relax the helmet law. It is to upgrade the seat belt law to a primary offense.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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