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Bill Would Make Motorcyclists Wear Helmets Until 21

Connecticut State Capitol. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford, supported the measure, but thinks it’s a public health issue that the bill only partially addresses.

By Mark Pazniokas, CTMirror.org

The mandatory age for wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Connecticut would rise from 18 to 21 under legislation easily passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate.

The bill passed on a vote of 113-33. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, a high school football coach, was one of two  Democrats joining 31 Republicans in opposition.

Connecticut repealed its mandatory helmet requirement for all motorcycle riders in 1976, when Congress stripped the transportation secretary of the ability to withhold federal highway funds from states without helmet laws. The helmet requirement for minors has been the law since 1989.

“I actually think this is a violation of the civil liberties of adults from the ages of 18 to 21,” said Rep. Kurt Vail, R-Stafford, an opponent of raising the age.

Others objected that the bill doesn’t go far enough, though they voted for the measure.

“The law of physics doesn’t recognize age,” said Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport.

About 17 percent of those killed in motor vehicle crashes in Connecticut in recent years were motorcycle riders, according to data compiled by the University of Connecticut. A 2015 study by the state Department of Transportation found more than half of the serious injures or fatalities suffered by motorcycle riders involved those not wearing helmets.

“This is a major public health issue,” said Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford.

Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said motorcycle head injuries increase overall health costs.

Reprinted with permission of The Connecticut Mirror. The author can be reached at [email protected].

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