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Most motorcyclists will no longer have to wear helmets on Missouri roadways
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Most motorcyclists will no longer have to wear helmets on Missouri roadways

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Motorcycle accident involving off-duty police officer

A police officer looks over a wrecked motorcycle at the scene of an crash at Goodfellow Boulevard and Natural Bridge Avenue on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Motorcyclists will soon be able to ride on Missouri roadways without a helmet after Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation on Tuesday easing the state’s helmet requirement.

Under the law, a licensed driver who is 26 or older and can provide proof of health insurance could opt to go without a helmet beginning Aug. 28.

The legislation Parson signed Tuesday also includes numerous other items.

In addition to easing the helmet requirements, the law identifies a funding source for a testing facility for a futuristic hyperloop transportation system that could one day speed passengers between St. Louis and Kansas City. It also bans drones over large sports arenas and creates a handful of new license plates.

“We really feel everything in this bill has been well vetted,” Tony Shepherd of O’Fallon, Missouri, who lobbies in support of repealing the helmet law for a motorcycle rights group, ABATE of Missouri, said in May.

Last year, Parson, a former county sheriff, vetoed a measure that would have allowed anyone older than 18 to ride without a helmet. His veto was centered on a separate provision in that legislation.

His 2019 rejection of the bill came after he was lobbied by medical and insurance groups.

Letters obtained by the Post-Dispatch said allowing motorcyclists to ride without headgear was an invitation to more death and expensive-to-treat head injuries.

“States that have repealed their all-rider motorcycle helmet law always experience an increase in rider deaths, serious and disabling brain injuries and medical costs usually borne by taxpayers and the state,” wrote Catherine Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The insurance provision in the law Parson signed calls for an insurance policy to cover medical costs for injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident.

Although police can request to see proof of insurance, they cannot stop or detain anyone solely to determine if they comply with the proposed law.

Shepherd said the issue is about giving motorcyclists freedom and choice.

“We’re not outlawing helmets by any means,” Shepherd said.

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