The helmet law fight continues. Freshman Senator Charlie Janssen introduced a bill (Legislative Bill 200) in the Nebraska State Senate this week to repeal that state’s helmet law.
Janssen’s proposed law would let riders who are 21-years-old or older wear anything on their heads that they please when riding a motorcycle. Riders who are between the ages of 16 and 21 could ride without a helmet if they first complete a motorcycle safety course “under the Motorcycle Education Safety Act” and carry proof that they have completed the course with them when they ride.
Stupid Versus Smart
Those who are new to motorcycling should know that for about the last 40 years helmet law advocates have been arguing that there are two classes of people in a civilized society: The stupid and the smart. And the smart are morally obliged to make laws that protect the stupid from themselves. Implicit in this argument is the understanding that the stupid people must never be allowed to know how one gets patched into the smart club.
Janssen’s bill was introduced January 12. Senator Arnie Stuthman agreed to co-sponsor the bill. Senators Danielle Nantkes and Kent Rogert also agreed to co-sponsor the bill the next day and it was referred to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday.
Nebraska is one of 20 states that requires that adults -who are people who are old enough to legally drink, vote, enlist in the Marine Corps or act in a pornographic movie-must wear a special plastic hat when they ride their motorcycles. The District of Columbia also has a helmet law.
New Year New Law
An attempt to repeal the Nebraska helmet law failed by two votes last year. Sixteen new state Senators were elected last November. Nine of the Senators they replaced were in favor of a helmet law and seven were opposed.
Todd Miller, of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of Nebraska told the Omaha World-Herald that he thinks repeal of the helmet law is, “Fifty-fifty. We came up with a couple more (supporters of repeal), but we also lost some.”
Senator Janssen is a former Navy search and rescue swimmer. He has been quoted as saying that he believes a repeal of the helmet law is about more than personal freedom. He also thinks that more bikers would travel through Nebraska if they did not have to wear helmets -especially bikers on their way to the Black Hills Rally in Sturgis.
“If this passes this year, I think we’ll see a huge impact,” Janssen told the Omaha paper.
Janssen also told the World-Herald that you are probably safer if you wear a helmet when you drive your car or truck. “But I don’t see people pushing that,” he said.