While many Florida congressmen are fighting to either ban or continue instituting red-light cameras through the state, others are focusing on an initiative to reinforce Florida’s motorcycle helmet law. Florida used to require riders to use helmets, but the law was repealed back in 2000. Today, drivers over 21 with at least $10,000 of medical coverage on their insurance policies are not required by law to wear helmets.
Representative Don Hahnfeldt feels strongly that all motorcyclists should be required to protect themselves with helmets, which is why he recently introduced legislation pushing for the law to be revised. Considering that motorcycles only make up 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but are involved in 19 percent of fatalities, Hahnfeldt’s concerns are not unfounded. In fact, Florida is one of very few states with such relaxed helmet policies. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, virtually every state within proximity to Florida, require all riders, regardless of age and insurance, to wear helmets for safety.
Hahnfeldt has his work cut out for him, especially since so many motorcycle riders prefer to ride without a helmet. One motorcyclist named David Bayrd explained, “Everybody I know, nobody wears helmets. It’s just a better feel; I like it. It’s more constrictive when you’re riding [with a helmet], it gets in your peripheral vision, everything like that. I just feel more aware without one when I’m riding.” Another motorcyclist who does wear his helmet isn’t sure how he feels about the proposed law. “It should be your own choice. I mean it’s your life, you should decide whether or not you want to wear one or not.”
Motorcycle safety advocates have long been trying to provide education and encouragement to help riders stay out of danger while on the road, but it isn’t difficult to find tragic stories of motorcycle accidents on a daily basis. Rep. Hahnfeldt should be able to find allies in his effort to keep motorcyclists safe and alive.