By Pendergast Law on October 31, 2019
Washington state is one of 19 states in the U.S.A. to have a universal helmet law. This means, every rider of a motorcycle, scooter, or low-motor motorcycle is required to wear a helmet. Yet, under proposed Washington Senate Bill 5007 (SB 5007) and companion House Bill 1125 (HB 1125), a new law to test motorcycle helmet use for three years could allow motorcycle users over 21 to forego the helmets and enjoy the freedom of riding a motorcycle helmet-free.
What Should I Know About SB 5007 (and HB 1125)?
There are four primary points to SB 5007/HB 1125:
- During the three-year pilot period of the proposed law, every motorcycle rider under 21 will still be required to wear a motorcycle helmet.
- Motorcyclists over the age of 21 will not be required to wear a helmet but will be required to show they have a vehicle liability policy, self-insurance, or a certificate of deposit or a liability bond. It is believed these policies will ensure that an injured rider will not become the responsibility of the state. If the over-21 motorcyclists cannot show they have insurance coverage, they will be charged with a traffic infraction.
- The Washington Safety Traffic Commission will be tasked with acquiring statistics about motorcycle fatalities from both the local and state levels during the three-year pilot so the data can be reported to the state legislature.
It is meant to take place from Fall 2019 to 2022, but the bill remains in committee.
Does Everyone Like This Proposed Bill?
The supporters of SB 5007 (and HB 1125) say the overall intent of the law is to understand what motorcyclists over the age of 21 would do if they are given the freedom of choice to wear or not wear helmets. They say this also gives them the freedom to make their own decisions about personal safety.
What Do The Opponents Say?
Those who are against SB 5007 want the right to decide if they wear a helmet or not. They also want the time to be extended longer than the three-year pilot. They believe being told what to do or wear, even with helmets, infringes upon their personal freedom.
What’s Next For The Law?
The bill is still in process with the Senate Committee on Transportation. We will be following their progress and will keep you up-to-date as SB 5007 (HB 1125) moves through the state senate and house.
Why The Focus On Motorcycle Helmets?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%; they are estimated to reduce the risk of death by 37%. Motorcycle helmets also protect a motorcyclist’s face and eyes from the weather and debris disturbed by other cars and vehicles on the road. Some helmets can protect a motorcyclist’s ears from noise and sound pollution, using noise cancellation technology, as well.
While riding with a helmet is clearly a smart choice for anyone out riding a bike or scooter, and the current law is one aimed at addressing public health concerns, some feel that they should be able make personal choices about their safety while riding a motorcycle.
A Legal Perspective
Our legal team has been personal injury attorneys in Seattle for over four decades. We want to see everyone stay safe out on the roads, and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest in a way they like best while still following the laws of the land. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, call us today at 888-539-9211 for a free consultation. We are here for you.