Va. House Panel Backs Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Mandate

February 7, 2006

A Virginia House of Delegates committee endorsed legislation Friday allowing motorcyclists 21 and older to ride without a helmet.

The Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 13-7 to send the measure to the House floor, where bills to relax the helmet law have died in close votes four years in a row. Last year’s vote was 51-46.

Del. Bill Janis, R-Henrico and sponsor of the bill, says helmets can contribute to accidents by impairing riders’ peripheral vision. Adults should be free to weigh the benefits and risks of wearing a helmet and decide for themselves, Janis has argued.

Representatives of law enforcement, medical, insurance and traffic safety organizations opposed the bill at a subcommittee hearing Thursday. They argued that the bill would lead to more deaths and serious injuries, driving up insurance rates and health care costs borne by taxpayers.

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