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July 22, 2014

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Senate committee says no to helmets, tougher seat belt law

Elizabeth Halseth

Elizabeth Halseth

Sen. Mike Schneider

Sen. Mike Schneider

CARSON CITY — A bill allowing adults to ride motorcycles without a helmet was approved by a state Senate committee Thursday, while a tougher seat belt law was turned back.

The seat belt bill would allow police to stop a motorist and issue a citation solely for not wearing a seat belt. The present law allows officers to issue a citation only if the driver is stopped for another traffic infraction.

The Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony earlier that 93 percent of Nevadans already buckle up.

Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, who opposed the bill, SB 235, said Nevadans use safety belts at a higher rate than neighboring states.

Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, in arguing for the bill, said the buckle-up rate is only 30 percent at night. The 93 percent figure cited is falsified to get federal funds, he charged.

He said opponents of the bill argue not wearing a seat belt is a personal choice, but everyone ends up paying to treat those injured because they aren’t buckled up.

Voting against the bill were Halseth, Dean Rhoads, R-Elko, Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, and John Lee, D-North Las Vegas.

The helmet bill, SB 177, removes the helmet requirement for motorcycle drivers and passengers if they are at least 21 years old and the driver has held a license for a year or more and completed a safety course.

Drivers and passengers of three-wheelers and mopeds would also be free of the helmet law if they complete the same requirements.

A motorcyclist who received his license before July 1, would not be required to take a safety course.

Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, said he would prefer to see the age raised to 25 and the cyclist would have five years experience.

Halseth said whether to wear a helmet should be a personal choice. She said figures from University Medical Center show riders injured while not wearing a helmet actually cost less to treat than those hurt while wearing helmets.

Schneider, however, said everyone bears the cost.

“This is costing society millions of dollars. No way does this benefit the state of Nevada,” he said.

Manendo, Schneider and committee Chairwoman Shirley Breeden, D-Las Vegas, voted against the bill.

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  1. WOW! YES!!!

    It's about time the legislature did something that affirms personal responsibility goes along with personal freedom. If an adult chooses to risk their life that is their right, period.

    I see little difference between the government saying you must use a seat belt or wear a helmet because it is good for you and the government saying you can not read a book because it is bad for you.

  2. I am fine with this helmet bill, but only if they insert a provision that prohibits the families of helmet-less riders ,who suffer fatal head traumas, from suing.

  3. wouldn't it be nice if the legislature attempted to address the budget shortfall? Guess it is easier to worry about what people do in their cars and on their motorcycles.

  4. If the misguided repeal of the helmet law is passed, there should be a provision requiring motorcyclists to carry at least $500,000 of medical insurance so taxpayers don't wind up paying for their inevitable head injuries. The price of "personal freedom" shouldn't be paid by the public.

  5. How about no Medicaid help for idiots stupid enough NOT to wear a motorcycle helmet who get disabled? How about no social security benefits for their family?

    Helmet laws keep social costs down. Every person permanently disabled, or killed, in a cycle accident costs Joe Taxpayer money. And the kind of injury most likely to do major damage -- head injuries of course.

    Why should all of us pay for the "freedom" of motorcycle riders to be stupid?

    We are supposed to be cutting government spending, NOT increasing it.

    Of course, I expect this sort of idiocy from the Nevada legislature.

  6. Nancy, good comment about the $500,000 policy -- but long-term permanent care for a disabled person would run into several million. So let's make that insurance policy $4 million.

    The motorcycle rider who wants to feel the wind in his/her hair can pay for it -- probably not over $10,000 - $15,000 a year for a $4M policy.

  7. Some legislator "said figures from University Medical Center show riders injured while not wearing a helmet actually cost less to treat than those hurt while wearing helmets."

    That is the dumbest statement I have ever heard. Sheer poppycock. My ex-wife used to work in brain and spinal injuries in a hospital in San Diego. I must have read at least a half dozen reports from hospitals and insurance companies about the dangers of riding a cycle with no helmet.

    Perhaps it costs less to treat those hurt while not wearing a helmet because they were dead.

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum once again.

  8. Hooray....finally a small but significant victory for individual freedoms!

    Ironically on the day that Atlas Shrugged is released in theaters.

    Who is John Galt?

  9. "A bill allowing adults to ride motorcycles without a helmet was approved by a state Senate committee Thursday, while a tougher seat belt law was turned back."

    If it survives the assembly vote, the legislature took a bite out of the nanny state. Not a big enough bite, but a bite nonetheless.

    "I am fine with this helmet bill, but only if they insert a provision that prohibits the families of helmet-less riders ,who suffer fatal head traumas, from suing."

    sounddude -- why cut off the lawsuit? If there's an actual injury, let the courts decide the liability. You should go watch a bill become law. It's a committee deciding for all the rest of us what we can and can't do, regardless of truth, justice and even common sense.

    digger -- the only part of your post I agree with is "The price of "personal freedom" shouldn't be paid by the public." The rest of it is just your cry for more nanny state.

    Woodysez1 -- more rants with nothing to back them up but your opinion. Do remind me how you're at all relevant to this Discussion.

    Noindex -- thanx for the heads up on "Atlas Shrugged"

    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others." -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

  10. Well if that doesn't fix the local economy and make the kids smarter then I don't know what will.

    Weee doggies, look like we got some smart folk runnin dis here state!