A House committee has passed on a bill that would remove the requirement to wear a motorcycle helmet.
On Wednesday, the Alabama House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security met to vote on several bills.
One bill up for discussion was Senate Bill 113 (SB113) by Sen. Gerald Allen (R – Tuscaloosa). The bill seeks to remove the current legal requirement for those operating electric or motorized bikes, 21 or older, to wear a protective helmet.
Rep. Jamie Kiel (R – Russellville), who presented an identical bill in the House, introduced the Senate bill before the committee.
“Motorcycle riders love their freedom,” Kiel said. "This bill would give motorcycle riders the freedom to wear a helmet or not.”
Rep. Chris England, who spoke in opposition to the bill, asked why there was an age restriction in the bill.
“If we’re talking about freedom, does it matter?” England asked.
Kiel stated that he used the 21-age minimum based on other states that had given similar requirements and stated that he believed it was a “maturity” issue.
England said he thought that there was a legitimate state issue to protect the safety of citizens, stating he believed it to be the government’s responsibility to compel specific safety measures.
“There is a necessity sometimes for the government to manage decision making,” England said.
“As a state, not only are we required to encourage people to take care of themselves, but we’re also trying to minimize the cost that we all pay when somebody is harmed in an accident,” England said. “Because the seriousness of an accident also contributes to how much it costs to take care of that person.
"That’s what I think people lose here, is the government is responsible for governing, not satisfying individual’s wants or needs, but governing. And the responsible thing for us to do is to require people to wear helmets, so, in the event that somebody is not smart enough to take care of themselves, we have a way to make sure that that happens.
“That’s why we make drugs illegal, that’s why we say, ‘you’ve got to be a certain age to drink alcohol,’ because we recognize, as a government, that sometimes people make stupid decisions,” England said.
The bill was unanimously voted into a yet unnamed subcommittee, which gives it a scant chance of reappearing in this session.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.