Motorcycle enthusiasts in Tennessee could soon ride helmet-free, so long as they have enough insurance. Several bills have been proposed this year, and one has now begun moving forward in the legislature.
Much of the debate is about cost, not safety. Representatives from TennCare point to accident victims with million-dollar medical bills.
Senator Frank Nicely and others counter that motorcycle riders without a helmet could end up costing the state less.
“You know, if you’re not wearing a helmet, you’re in the morgue. That’s bad and that’s terrible, but it’s not something where we’re worrying about dollars here. We can’t worry about that side of it.”
The legislation passed the Senate Transportation committee. In the same meeting, the panel considered additional penalties for driving without a seatbelt.
Senator Becky Massey is a Republican from Knoxville. She figures even if more accident victims die, some would still have to be life-flighted to the hospital first.
“I think it’s very incongruent, and I don’t agree,” Massey said.
Under the bill that’s gained initial approval, motorcyclists would be required to have $200,000 of medical coverage and pay a $50 fee, most of which would go to a special impaired drivers fund.
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