Helmet law DOA in Maine Legislature

AUGUSTA — The state Senate on Wednesday voted 26-7 against a bill that would have required motorcycle riders to wear helmets while riding on Maine roads.

The vote followed a 123-21 decision against the bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Representatives from Lewiston-Auburn split on the issue, but lawmakers from more rural parts of Maine, including Franklin and Oxford counties, seemed unified in their opposition to mandated helmets for motorcycle riders.

Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, said she supported the mandate because it was the right thing to do for safety and adults should set the example.

Maine law requires riders under 18 to wear a helmet, but adults can decide to wear a helmet or not.

Helmets prevent serious brain injuries and the associated medical costs that come with those who survive them, Craven said. Taxpayers help foot the bill for survivors on public medical programs; for those with private medical insurance, other ratepayers pay the price for expensive care and treatment for injuries that could be prevented or minimized with helmet use, she said.

She said for those most seriously disabled from motorcycle head injuries, there's an additional cost of institutional care, which is also often funded with taxpayers' money.

"A helmet would have saved their life, or would have at least prevented a serious brain injury," Craven said. "Other injuries often heal, but your brain doesn't heal as well. I am absolutely in favor of everyone wearing a helmet if they want to take risks like that."

Other lawmakers, including Rep. Michel Lajoie, D-Lewiston, said they were not ready to mandate helmets for adults.

Lajoie, a former fire chief in Lewiston, said he needed more evidence that helmets made a significant difference. 

"It's difficult for me to look at it and mandate grown-ups to do something," Lajoie said.

Other local lawmakers voting against the helmet mandate were Reps. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston; Nate Libby, D-Lewiston; Mike Beaulieu, R-Auburn; Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon;  Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner; Jarrod Crocket R-Bethel; Paul Gilbert, D-Jay; Lance Harvell, R-Farmington; Terry Hayes, D-Buckfield; Lisa Villa, D-Harrison; Tom Winsor, R-Norway; and Sens. John Cleveland, D-Auburn; Jim Hamper, R-Oxford; Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls; John Patrick, D-Rumford; and Tom Saviello, R-Wilton.

Those supporting the helmet mandate were Reps. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, and Wayne Werts, D-Auburn.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Helmet Law

By law, we are required to wear seat belts. By law, we must put our babies and small children in restrained seating in cars. It saves lives. Why is it that motorcycle drivers/riders who are in a much more vulnerable position on the road than people in cars, don't have to go the extra mile by wearing helmets so they'll be safer also? It doesn't make sense to me. I'm a former rider and, in my opinion, mandating helmets is far more necessary than seat belts.

Thomas Hamilton's picture

Helmets

Several years ago I was at a dinner party with several physicians. At the time there was also a debate going on in the state where I was living at the time about requiring motorcyclist to wear helmets. One of the physicians, a surgeon who specialized in kidney transplants, said something that startled me. I paraphrase here: “Ah, motorcycles I call them donor cycles”. He was referring of course to the notion that so many accidents involving helmet-less motorcyclist result in serious head injuries many of which culminate in otherwise healthy “brain-dead” patients who are potential organ donors. If you choose to exercise your right to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, it would be altruistic of you to indicate on your license that you have chosen to be an organ donor if in the event …

Noel Foss's picture

Interesting.

The Legislature is ok with a seat belt law, and recently attempted to pass a ban on tanning for people under 18 (for the greater good), but aren't interested in a helmet law.

If Ms. Craven believes motorcyclists to be a burden on society, I wonder what she thinks of the people who receive food stamps, or MaineCare...

I ride, and I wear my gear. But I don't think it should be forced on anybody.

Mark Elliott's picture

"Sen. Margaret Craven,

"Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, said she supported the mandate because it was the right thing to do for safety and adults should set the example."

For whos safety Ms. Craven?? Yes, adults should set an example. I want my children to grow up knowing full well it is perfectly ok to force their beliefs on others! Thank you democrats for continuing to set such a proud example!

" Taxpayers help foot the bill for survivors on public medical programs; for those with private medical insurance, other ratepayers pay the price for expensive care and treatment for injuries that could be prevented or minimized with helmet use, she said."

This is a common argument from democrats. They claim we are a "burden on society" because we increase healthcare costs for all. They forget, however, that their argument just a few years ago when we were dealing with loud pipes, (yes Ms. Craven you were one of them!), was that motorcyclists were such a small sliver of society that we didn't deserve the same rights as every one else. Oh...and they didn't start using this argument till Obey started selling Obamacare. For decades prior, healthcare costs had nothing to do with their reasoning.

So which is it?? Are we a burden on society, or a small sliver of society??

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Two wheels

Two brain cells...just makes it better for lesser bikers on the road in due time....

Noel Foss's picture

Shrug.

When was the last time you saw a motorcyclist riding and texting?
(meant to be humorous)

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