EDITORIAL: Helmet law update gives riders choice


A potential law being discussed in the Nebraska Legislature would relax the state's motorcycle helmet requirements and put the choice in the driver's hands.

Blair Sen. Ben Hansen introduced LB91, which would no longer require driver's over the age of 21 to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. A driver will have to complete a certified safety course and wear protective eye equipment.

Hansen's bill has been taken seriously this year, recently being subject to a hearing by the Transportation Committee hearing.

Hansen championed the bill because he felt Nebraskans deserve the right to choose for themselves. Former state senator Dave Bloomfield said the relaxed law would help draw more tourism to the state, as some riders may have avoided Nebraska highways and interstates because of the law.

Arguments against the bill were voiced by Dr. Daniel Rosenquist, representing the Nebraska Medical Association, who stated that helmets reduce injuries and lower healthcare costs.

No action has been taken as of Feb. 7 but it's kicked off an interesting debate: should helmet use be a personal choice? Arguments in favor of the bill show that wearing a helmet should be optional as to let a driver execute his or her personal freedom to make decisions for their own safety.

That's not an unreasonable ask and something that has become a hotter debate each year since the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, a driver should be allowed to decide for themselves, especially with the requirement of safety courses and eye equipment included in the amendment. A driver of 21-plus years should have the training and road experience to determine whether or not they feel safe without a helmet. The law doesn't have any language that prohibits helmet use.

What this would do, however, is put arguments on both sides under the microscope. With a history of data from statistics with the law implemented, it should be easy to see if relaxing the helmet requirements leads to more deaths and injuries. If those numbers spike should the bill pass, it'd be appropriate to revisit it and maybe find a middle ground. If the numbers don't drastically change and it's proven to be a benefit to the state, easing helmet restrictions was an appropriate decision.