WASHINGTON - A current law in Washington state is that every motorcycle rider has to wear a helmet. Senate Bill 5007 would make it legal to not wear one if you're 21 or older.
Now, there has actually been a lot of back and forth over the years on this law. Back in 1977, Washington repealed it. Over the next 11 years, an average of almost 100 riders died every year.
Then in 1990, lawmakers re-enacted the helmet rule. This led to a 60 percent drop in deaths.
Local State Senator Sharon Brown is one of Senate Bill 5007's sponsors. We spoke with people both for and against the bill Tuesday.
Eric Locke is a parts specialist at Rattlesnake Harley Davidson who always wears a helmet ever since his accident in 2015, where he was launched from his motorcycle into a chain link fence and suffered a lot of broken bones and a collapsed lung. He is still recovering. He wears his helmet now every time he rides and refuses to do otherwise. He has been riding for 51 years…and used to ride without one. He respects everyone’s choice to not, but he says overall it's much safer to wear one, and they save lives.
“It's a chance everybody takes... I had one good serious accident in August of 2015 and I was lucky to have my helmet on and it saved my life pretty much,” Locke said.
Kat Bolton is from the Tri-Cities A.B.A.T.E of Washington. Their motto is “those who ride should decide.” She said, "We believe that the motorcycle riders should have a choice on how they are able to ride.”
The bill is a pilot project and would require all motorcyclists to have proof of liability insurance. Everyone under the age of 21 would not be allowed to ride without one…. over 21 would have a choice.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculates savings from helmet laws because of deaths, head injuries, hospitalizations, and other costs. Researchers say a comprehensive cost savings is up to a half billion dollars.
So what's next?
SB-5007 is proposed as a pilot project. There are a lot of steps, including multiple voting processes in the House and then the Senate.
NBC Right Now will keep you updated on this initiative.
Senate Bill 5007: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5007&Year=2019&initiative=