Representatives Bill Current and Dewy Hill sponsored a good helmet repeal bill for NC Bikers, H839, until Cary Allred motioned for an amendment to restrict it to speed zones of 45 mph and under. The bill would have provided an exception for adult motorcyclists over 21 who decide to not wear helmets. With the amended bill, everyone will still have to wear helmets in speed zones over 45 mph, unless they are in a parade. The amended bill passed the House Transportation Committee on a 9-7 vote.
Though it seems a step in the right direction, the helmet law will still be a discrimination against motorcyclists. There is no similar requirement for automobile helmets on the highways. The CDC says automobile crashes produce 10 times as many head injuries as motorcycles.
Federal helmet impact attenuation and penetration tests are not conducted for speeds above 14 mph. Motorcyclists get going faster than that as soon as they are out of their driveways.
Helmets cause a loss of peripheral vision, offering particularly bad vertical (up and down) vision. Can you imagine how many more crashes there would be if automobile drivers were forced to wear helmets?
In 2007, the NC legislature passed H563 which changed the law to require helmets of a type compatible with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. It passed, despite most legislators having no idea what FMVSS 218 is and how motorcyclists are expected to comply with it. The new bill was passed into law and became effective January 1, 2008, kicking off a slew of protest rides in many areas of the state. According to DOT and GHSP bureaucrats, in the first year since FMVSS 218 was embedded into the mandatory helmet law, there were more motorcycle crashes despite people riding less miles (average vehicle miles traveled) due to rising fuel prices.
There is virtually no difference in motorcycle fatality rates between North Carolina and South Carolina, (SC actually has slightly better statistics), but the difference in freedoms is incredible.
As for what the future holds for H839, don't expect this watered down bill to go far. It is supposed to be scheduled for the House Judiciary III committee which is chaired by Rep Ron Sutton who has no idea how to comply with FMVSS 218, but was the safety nanny who introduced H563 in 2007. The JIII committee is loaded with safety nannies - only 2 of out 17 of the members voted against H563 in 2007, so indicators are that it won't get past JIII.