Debate: Should motorcycle riders wear helmets? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Debate: Should motorcycle riders wear helmets?

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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

A North Carolina legislator has proposed a bill that would give some motorcyclists and moped riders the choice to wear a safety helmet.

Bobby Fender says he never rides his motorcycle without a helmet. 

"If something were to happen, I want to be protected," said Fender.

Steve Negra manages Team Charlotte Motorsports. He says some people enjoy riding without one.

"They would just rather wear those safety goggles and not wear a helmet," said Steve Negra, General Manager of Team Charlotte Motorsports.

Currently, 19 states have universal helmet laws, including North Carolina.

But Representative John Torbett from Gastonia has proposed a bill that would give some riders a choice.

The bill says riders age 21 and older don't have to wear a helmet as long as they have insurance that will  cover the first $10,000 of medical bills if they are injured.

Representative Torbett says he thinks motorcycle safety depends on the experience of the rider and training.

"That in itself helps reduce traffic accidents, injuries and inevitably fatalities," said Torbett.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, motorcycle-related deaths have increased by 55% since 2000.

Related injuries and deaths totaled $12 billion in one year in medical care costs.

Helmets are estimated to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders.

Still, supporters of the bill say the issue boils down to freedom.

"That freedom to say hey, I don't have to put a helmet on to ride a motorcycle," said Negra.

The bill is still being reviewed in the House. If it becomes law, it will go into effect in October.

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