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Helmet bill draws hundreds to hearing

January 29, 2010

Helmet bill draws hundreds to hearing

CONCORD – A large crowd turned out yesterday to argue against a bill that would require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

More than 250 people took seats in Representatives Hall, almost all of them in protest of the bill. Helmet bills are filed nearly every year and have been regularly defeated. Sponsors of HB 1162 told the House Transportation Committee the bill would lead to fewer serious head injuries on the highways and save the state money on medical care in the long run.

New Hampshire is one of three states that do not require a motorcyclist to wear a helmet.

Opponents of the bill protested what they said is an effort to control their behavior.

“I don’t believe it is your job to take care of me, to protect me from myself,” said John Wilkins of Gilmanton. “A stupid driver or rider is just as stupid with a helmet on as with a helmet off.” Katherine Dawson, chairman of the Tilton Board of Selectmen, was one of few members of the public to testify in favor of the bill. She and her husband were in a motorcycle accident several years ago, she said. She wore a helmet, her husband did not, and he ran up a $500,000 hospital bill after being airlifted, she said.

“He’ll never walk again. He’ll never speak again. He’ll never be himself again,” she said.

The state could face sanctions that would cost it federal highway dollars if it did not adopt a helmet law.

Dave Benson of Nashua, who said he drives more cautiously when he rides without a helmet, urged the committee to tell the government: “Let us keep our freedom, and you can keep the change.”

“The state could face sanctions that would cost it federal highway dollars if it did not adopt a helmet law.”

The above statement is not true; states do not lose federal highway funding if they do not have a helmet law. I brought attention to the sentence as a “FYI” as to the false information being put out concerning helmet bills.

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