May 21, 2019
Home / New England News / Helmet Law Proposed In CT For All Riders

Helmet Law Proposed In CT For All Riders

HARTFORD – A bill introduced this morning in the General Assembly would require all motorcycle operators and their passengers to wear a helmet when riding in Connecticut. Raised Bill No. 7140 came about on the recommendation of the state Department of Transportation and has been referred to the legislature’s Transportation committee, which plans a public hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

Current law only requires riders under 18 years old to wear a helmet. Under the bill, anyone not wearing a helmet could be fined “not less than ninety dollars.” The bill excludes “autocycle” operators and their passengers from having to wear a helmet.

The neighboring states of Massachusetts and New York have universal helmet laws as does Vermont. Rhode Island requires riders 20 and under to wear a helmet, while Maine requires those 17 and under to wear one. New Hampshire is the only state in the northeast that doesn’t have a helmet law of any kind.

The bill is expected to generate controversy among riders, with opposition coming from the Connecticut Motorcycle Riders Association, which has long advocated that it should be a rider’s choice whether or not to wear a helmet. The group’s members wore “Let Those That Ride Still Decide” shirts when lobbying against similar helmet legislation in February 2017.

CMRA at legislative hearing in 2017

However, this time the helmet bill has strong support from a coalition of health organizations and safety experts, including the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, and the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut as well as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in Washington, DC.

State backers of the bill have already been lobbying members of the Transportation committee and have produced a video promoting a universal helmet law that emphasizes that head protection saves lives and money.

 

In the video, Dr. Alfred Croteau, a trauma surgeon at Hartford Hospital and longtime rider, calls a universal helmet law “a no-brainer” and urges passage of the bill. “I’m acutely aware of how dangerous it can be to ride a motorcycle. I’ve taken care of patients who don’t wear sufficient protective gear, like helmets, and were seriously or fatally injured. Over and over again in my trauma bay, I’ve witnessed the benefits of wearing a helmet,” he said.

Also backing the bill is registered nurse Maria Tackett, who is a nursing director at Hartford Hospital. “My experience as a nurse is that helmets really do make the difference between a survivable motorcycle crash and one that ends in death or ends in a quality of life that is greatly diminished,” she said in the video. 

Unlike past efforts to enact helmet legislation in the state, this time there is organized backing for the bill and growing support among riders who view a helmet law not as a choice issue, but as a safety issue in an era of when so many drivers are texting.  

“There’s a perception out there that all motorcycle riders feel head protection is not necessary. This is simply not true,” said Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified instructor (and RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland columnist) Paul Siciliano, whose comments in the video are aimed directly at legislators. “The fact is, there’s a sizable percentage of motorcyclists out there who feel head protection is absolutely necessary. They vote too.”

About Bud Wilkinson

An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" vintage car feature for the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. He studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University where he received a B.A. degree. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville.

26 comments

  1. I think it should be up to the individual whether or not they want to wear a helmet, not the fucking asshole lawmakers. They have nothing fucking better to do than to worry about helmets and tolls.

  2. Then every car that is a convertible with no roll cage should have to wear a helmet also it is the same…let the riders decide not politicians

  3. Marshall Wallenta

    LET THOSE WHO RIDE DECIDE
    If this is truly a free country then
    I should be able to ride my motorcycle
    Comfortable with out the helmet strap
    Annoying my neck especially in the heat
    And the weight of the helmet giving me pain
    From my arthritis in my neck.
    If people want to wear a helmet while riding
    Go for it BUT DONT MAKE ME !
    Please !

  4. I too would agree that this is or should be an individual-choice. I say that as someone with over 40 years riding and 30 years helping survivors of head-injury rehabilitate. In both capacities I’ve studied brain-safety and the nature of TBI.

    So please – please – make reasonable arguments. That your husband died of a head injury even though he had no helmet on? How is that an argument against helmets? And no helmet will “snap your neck.” Before it could get anywhere near your neck, your neck would already have to be broken. They don’t reduce vision (the openings are wider than any human’s peripheral field of vision. Okay, maybe not a horse’s).
    And no, “no helmet can prevent the brain from contacting the skull in a given set of circumstances,” but they reduce it by reducing the impact’s – well -impact. I mean, the designers aren’t stupid. Helmets work. They care about making them work
    And please, stats comparing deaths to helmeted riders versus unhelmeted means nothing without overall numbers of riders in both groups.
    As far as “Those whining i am sure do not ride.” You’re wrong. Why would you be so sure?
    Bottom line. You don’t want to wear a helmet? Don’t. I will support your right to make that choice. But quit the bullshit about ’em being dangerous. That’s what’s dangerous.

  5. Simple question: When those who ride decide have no healthcare insurance do the taxpayers get to decide who gets to pay the medical bills?

  6. I have 40 plus years of sport bike riding under my belt…I can’t imagine NOT wearing a full coverage helmet, plus leather. But we are adults who should be able to choose. That said, my drivers license states that I am an organ donor, so whenever someone tells me that I’m risking my life on a bike, I can point to the potential lives that I may save in the event of an un timely end. I wish that the default on our drivers license was FOR organ donation with an option to NOT donate. Live free and save a life! Not that anyone will want my 60 plus year old parts anymore. ; )

  7. Does anyone else see this for what it really is? It’s a way to generate revenue just like the seat belt law. Nobody is talking about the number of tickets the police will be able to write for people violating the law. It’s another excuse to get pulled over to make sure your helmet is “DOT” approved just like the seat belt spot checks. I wish the politicians would stop hiding behind the excuse that they are looking out for our safety! As far as the financial burden goes, that’s what insurance is for! Helmets don’t prevent accidents they just make them survivable. If you think you need to wear a helmet to be safe, wear one! If you think you’re OK without one then don’t wear one! It should be a riders choice… Stop trying to “protect” us from ourselves and do something about the sad state of affairs this state’s government is in!

  8. First of all my husband was killed in a car accident he wasn’t wearing a helmet but he died of a head injury. I don’t need to go on but I would start by saying enforcing laws already in place like um no cell phone use while driving! as a regular member of society I can count three out of every five cars at a stoplight with a phone up to their face but yet the cops don’t have this capability maybe you need to focus your energy on making sure the people that the people that are killing us and helping to create these fouled statistics are upholding the law! by the way there’s only a 20-something percent of us that get killed from head injuries in non helmet cases the rest is ust the way they word it I the news. When I got hit the first time by a car the newspaper said motorcyclist hit utility pole wasn’t wearing a helmet! What happened was an old lady hit me making me crash into a pole luckily I wasn’t wearing a helmet or my neck would have snapped off!!! So make sure you know what you are reading is the whole story

  9. We all have a choice and most chose not to wear a helmet in CT MY CHOICE not anyone elses. Nice to add the backseat seatbelt law in order to get it to pass. funny it wasn’t also added to proposal 1 now isn’t it. Go ahead pass it and we the motorcycle riders of CT will fight to repeal it again. Why not leave It up to the citizens of CT put it on the Nov ballot as a question let’s us vote for it or not. Scared to do that now aren’t you!!!!!!! Again stop the high speeds of 80 and phone use and a lot of other things going on while people are driving

  10. What the hell is wrong with you. If you want to wear a helmet then go for it. I truly hate people like you, mind your own damn business. Assholes!

  11. Let those ride decide, helmets block your side vision, hearing and are heavy. I need all the vision and hearing I can while riding along side of people on phones. If you want to save lives enforce distracted driving! I encounter at least two people every day driving distracted. Phones!

  12. I dont care if the “facts” show helmets save money and lives. Most motorcycle accidents are caused because of someone not paying attention in the automobile, yet nothing is being done about it. It is the governments answer to everything, regulate regulate regulate. People are fleeing from the state as it is, do we need to give them yet more reason to leave. It is my choice to wear a helmet or not. I refuse to ride in states with helmets because they hurt my neck due to scoliosis. I agree with the person who said helmets are very constrictive to sounds etc. Your hearing is more acute without a helmet. Those whining i am sure do not ride.

  13. After reading the responses for the proposed helmet bill, I felt that I needed to respond. With more than 40 years of riding, both with and without a helmet, I have found that my freedom of choice to not wear a helmet gives me more confidence when I ride. My vision is better, my hearing is not muffled. Today’s cars are quieter and drivers are so distracted that it is more important than ever for riders to be extremely vigilant. The few seconds that being able to hear and see what is happening can be your best defense to avoid the accident all together.

    If helmets are the answer why did NHTSA report figures that for the years from 2011 thru 2015, show we lost 13,884 riders wearing helmets, and 9,448 not wearing helmets – a difference of 4,436 lives that were not lost when freedom of choice was used? All lives matter but let’s take emotions out of the issue and look at what is really happening. The best defense to a crash is not an after-the-fact-hope that the helmet works to save your life. Our goal should be fewer accidents, which would equate to fewer deaths.

  14. America was founded on an absolute requirement for individual FREEDOM. I ride. I wear a full-face helmet at all times. But I will fight for my fellow riders’ right not to wear a helmet if that is what he or she chooses. I will always appeal to riders to get as much education as possible, so that there can be no crashing, as opposed to just safer crashing.
    And it goes without saying that I also advocate strongly for my idea that GOOD DRIVERS JUST DRIVE. Drive the car. Put down the phone, the hamburger, the newspaper, the mascara. Keep your eyes peeled, and watch specifically for motorcycles.
    Leave riders alone. If you do not ride, you do not understand, so back off.

  15. Anyone truly interested in the statistics regarding the life-saving and money-saving impact of wearing a helmet can easily find them on the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/mc/index.html). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes their data every year. And every year, it is very clear that helmets save both lives and money. The latest estimate is that wearing helmets result in an estimated $2.8 billion saved in economic costs, and $17.3 billion in comprehensive costs. More details on how these numbers are calculated are available here: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812206. And to those who are confused, in AMERICA, we also have laws about smoking, drinking alcohol, and other public health issues.

  16. If helmets are so effective in saving lives, why aren’t automobile drivers and passengers required to wear them. Since there are so many more drivers than riders, think of all the lives and money that could be saved.

  17. Not one person that sights these statistics sites their source. Let’s hear that and let’s also remember figures don’t lie but liars can figure. Safetycrats I know what’s best for you therefore you will do as I say and I will make a law to make it mandatory.

  18. Is the helmet going to protect my legs and elbows? Well I’ve crashed a bunch of times and that’s what usually gets hurt never had head injury it doesn’t help on a 90 degree day it dehydrates you don’t mind wearing one when it’s cold out should be my choice this is still AMERICA

  19. I feel confident that most adults will understand that we are allowed to make our own decisions. It’s uncomfortable to watch others do something you don’t believe in but if they are over 21 you must respect their freedom to make adult decisions.

    We must not require for others what we have decided for ourselves.

  20. I did not hear a single person in that video say we should work to prevent crashes. Crash avoidance is very much preferable to “safer” crashing and to my knowledge there is no helmet on the market that can help to prevent a crash. It is ludicrous to think that helmets are the potential cure all for fatalities. In fact in recent years approximately 60% of motorcycle fatalities were already wearing helmets and no one ever reports or investigates the cause of death the vast majority of times. The bottom line is not having a mandatory helmet law does not prevent someone from wearing one should they choose to do so. As an American adult citizen I expect to make those decisions for myself just as I decide if I am going to smoke, indulge in alcohol, or eat unhealthy foods. BIG BROTHER, NO THANK YOU!!!

  21. Let us decide I agree helmets save lives , but please don’t have government make more decisions for me .

  22. So it saves lives and money? Does it cost more lives and money than smoking? How about alcohol? How about fast food? The list of things that cost more lives and money than motorcycle helmets is almost endless, address those and then well talk about helmet laws, until then, I ride I will decide.

  23. Money is the thrust behind this- Insuraunce company money
    Then throw in knee jerk emotional reactions
    Everything you do in life has some risk, for those willing to accept a higher risk LEAVE THEM BE
    For those riders that prefer helmets; by all means wear it!
    Don’t make choices for others! They don’t tell you what doctor you have to see, or what pills to take, car , bike to ride.
    How much of our freedoms are people going to give up for “ safety” that is only negligible when god comes calling you have no choice

  24. Just wondering…
    Are helmets optional when flying fighter jets?
    Are helmets required when riding a motorcycle on military bases?
    Are helmets optional on the front lines of combat?

  25. I feel that helmets DO make a difference … however I also believe that NO current helmet can prevent the brain from contacting the skull in a given set of circumstances, hence a brain injury could still occur …a full helmet would reduce or prevent contusions and fractures I think … I wear a full face helmet myself, as I also wear protective equipment when I do welding, or play hockey … try to minimize the risk … the riding environment is so much more dangerous these days, so I would support a helmet law …

  26. Stop legislating our personal safety. If I can go to war and fight for this country I should be adult enough to choose whether I wear a helmet or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you are not a robot by completing the arithmetic *