NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A bill that would have allowed motorcycle riders to ride without a helmet failed in a Tennessee House subcommittee.
The Transportation Subcommittee on Wednesday rejected House Bill 42 by Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin).
The legislation would have created a four-year pilot program to make helmet-wearing voluntary from September through May for those over 21 years old. Those on TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, would’ve still been required to wear a helmet.
Reedy said his bill was about giving people the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet. He pointed out that helmets are optional for adult riders in many other states.
He said creating a pilot program would prove that rolling back the helmet law was “not going to be as bad” as people think regarding additional injuries and fatalities.
However, several committee members still expressed concerns.
Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) said that while she recognizes freedom of choice, the bill would’ve come with a cost, in the form of serious injuries and fatalities.
“It’s just something I think we can help Tennesseans protect themselves,” Hazlewood said. “It’s just like the seatbelt law, the don’t-text-and-drive [law]…these are all things that are, in my mind, common sense.”
Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin), who chairs the subcommittee, said the TennCare provision would’ve been difficult for police to enforce.
Last week, a Tennessee AAA group announced its opposition to the bill. A spokesperson attended Wednesday’s hearing and urged lawmakers to vote against it.
Reedy said he introduced the bill this year after a previous attempt to pass it in 2016 failed.
Lawmakers are also considering a proposal that would allow motorcycles to lane split.