Connecticut lawmakers are considering ending a long-standing practice on state roads: riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
For the first time, some of the loudest voices in the conversation are coming from motorcycle riders who favor wearing helmets.
“Their choice comes at everyone else’s expense,” said Paul Siciliano, a motorcycle safety instructor said of motorcycle enthusiasts who insist on not wearing helmets a matter of comfort and tradition.
“They don’t represent the majority of riders in Connecticut anymore. They just don’t,” he added.
Motorcyclists who prefer not to wear helmets were also vocal before the Joint Transportation Committee. They argue that trained adult riders know how to protect themselves, and avoid dangerous situations that could result in crashes. They also argued that helmets impede their ability to see the road.
Twenty-eight states have some kind of requirement for helmets, either universal or for children up to age 17.
“This should be our choice. You know? I want to take that chance,” said Norman Lejoie, who started riding motorcycles more than 40 years ago. He’s owned 17 different bikes over that period of time. He added, “Let those who ride decide.”
A recent AAA poll of licensed Connecticut drivers showed that 75 percent of them favor a universal helmet law, which is what New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have as their laws.
Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, even testified in support of the universal helmet proposal before lawmakers.
“Safety equipment is the best defense to prevent injury and that’s across the board whether it’s seat belts, helmets, car seats, booster seats. It prevents fatalities and injuries and in these case we believe it would prevent fatalities and injuries as well,” Homendy said.