Del. Considering Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Considering Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Engines are revved up as motorcycle riders and safety advocates are once again debating a mandatory helmet law in Delaware.

A bill introduced recently in Dover would require motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets at all times.

That's a step further than current state law goes. Right now Delaware requires there be enough helmets on the bike for the operator and passengers. But for people over 19-years-old, it does not require the helmet be worn.

Nikki Smith was killed on Seaford Road in 2013. She was the passenger on a motorcycle that crashed. She wasn't wearing a helmet.

"It was really hard. It still is, um, just a big shock. It was all unexpected," said Michelle Jones, Smith's aunt. "Everybody who rides a motorcycle should have on a helmet no matter what your age is."

"It's the right thing, and I think that if people analyze it and see the facts behind it, I think they'll end up supporting it," said Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, the bill's sponsor.

Rep. Lynn said 15 people died on motorcycles in Delaware since the start of 2014. Six were wearing helmets.

"We mandate that people wear seat belts. We mandate that you put your children in car seats," Lynn said. "I don't think that this is an intrusion into anyone's rights."

But many people, especially many motorcycle riders, disagree. Gary Hilderbrand is state legislative coordinator for the motorcyclist rights group ABATE of Delaware.

"We're an organization that deals with choice," he said. "If you want to wear one, you wear one. If you don't want to wear one, you don't wear one."

Tom Trader has been riding for more than four decades. He usually wears a helmet but said doing so is his choice. He believes everyone should have the same choice available to them.

"If you hit your leg, should you have a leg helmet on? If you hit your arm, should you have something on your arm? I just think it's unnecessary legislation," Trader said.

Though there have been tweaks here and there, Delaware's current helmet law has effectively been in place since the 1970's. In the 1980's there was a failed push for a mandatory helmet law. And in 2011 a full repeal of the law passed the state House and Senate before being vetoed by Gov. Jack Markell.

This year's bill was introduced on the last week. It's been assigned to a committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Nineteen states and Washington, DC, currently have mandatory helmet laws. Maryland and Virginia require motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets.

New Jersey also requires helmets and adds the helmets must have reflectors on either side.

Pennsylvania however does not require motorcycle rides wear a helmet if they are 21 or older. Passengers 21 years or older are also not required to wear helmets on motorcycles in Pennsylvania.

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