State rep. looks to modify Ore. helmet law

State rep. looks to modify Ore. helmet law

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) - An Albany lawmaker wants to allow Oregon motorcycle riders and passengers to ride without helmets if they're 21 or older.

Twenty legislators have signed onto House Bill 3141 sponsored by Republican Rep. Andy Olson, the Democrat-Herald reported. The bill would change the state motorcycle helmet law so that only persons under 21 are required to wear a helmet.

Olson said the change would allow riders to hear better and see more. Olson expected the measure to go to the House transportation panel and come up for a hearing in a week or so.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says helmets reduce crash-related head injuries, the leading cause of death among riders wearing no helmets.

Oregon is one of 20 states that require helmets for all motorcycle riders regardless of age, the newspaper reported. Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no motorcycle helmet requirement at all, while many other states require helmets only for younger riders and passengers, whether under 18 or 21 years of age.

Twenty-nine states used to have universal helmet laws but have repealed or changed them over the past decades to apply only to younger riders, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association's website.

Even if the law is changed in Oregon, a lot of people will continue to ride with a helmet, said Mel Yeager, secretary-treasurer of BikePAC of Oregon. "They, however, support wholeheartedly the right to choose for those who want to ride without a helmet," he told the Democrat-Herald.

Yeager said the measure has broad support among motorcyclists with whom his group has contact.

Reps. Jules Bailey of Portland and Brian Clem of Salem are the two Democrats that have signed on to the bill.

Republican co-sponsors include Reps. Sherrie Sprenger of Scio and Jim Thompson of Dallas, as well as Sens. Frank Morse of Albany and Fred Girod of Stayton.

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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)