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Is There a Federal Helmet Law Looming?

Posted on May 08, 2014

A news alert from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) suggests that the proposed new federal transportation bill may prompt calls for mandatory helmet laws nationwide. The draft of the bill is 350 pages long and you have to suffer through over 160 pages to come to the part about motorcycle safety grants in Title IV, Section 4004, where the language is amended by adding, "The Secretary or the Secretary's designee may engage in activities with States and State legislators to consider proposals related to motorcycle helmet use laws."

This is an interesting use of language suggesting that there could indeed be a push for mandatory helmet laws coming from Washington. But then, there is nothing really new about that except this time around its being included in the proposed transportation bill. What's an even more interesting use of language is the name of the bill: Generating Renewal, Opportunity and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America,  or just GROW AMERICA for short. One has to wonder who thinks these titles up. If you have trouble sleeping at night, you can read the entire bill here.

Anyway, another thing to consider is that not too long ago there was an assessment of the various state's highway safety plans and states that did not have a universal mandatory helmet law in effect were given lower grades and assessed as "high risk" for their plans.  Part of this GROW AMERICA Act includes permission to reduce federal grants for highway safety by as much as 20% for deficiencies or "high risk" factors in the state's safety plans. This could be another way to pressure states to enact helmet laws by once again invoking the punitive witholding of grant monies.

The MRF urges everyone to contact their congressmen and express concern over the use of the helmet law language in the bill.

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