BILL ANALYSIS AB1412 Date of Hearing: May 28, 1997 ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS Carole Migden, Chairwoman AB 1412 (Ducheny) - As Introduced Policy Committee: Transportation Vote: 11 - 6 Urgency: No State Mandated Local Program: NoReimbursable: SUMMARY This bill limits the motorcycle helmet law to drivers and riders who are under 18 years of age. Consequently, drivers and riders who are 18 years of age or older would no longer have to wear a helmet when on a motorcycle. FISCAL EFFECT No direct fiscal effect. However, if adult motorcyclists stop wearing helmets and there is a resulting increase in the number and severity of head injuries, there are substantial increased state General Fund costs, in the millions of dollars, to pay for a large portion of medical expenses incurred by these injured motorcyclists. According to several studies on the cost-effectiveness of wearing helmets, this is a likely scenario. BACKGROUND Rationale. This bill's sponsor, the Aligned Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), argues that adult motorcyclists should be given the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. In addition, ABATE argues that the vast reductions in motorcyclist death and severe head injury since the helmet law went into effect in 1992, are due primarily to fewer motorcycles being registered and operated and the benefits of state-administered safety programs. Statistics. Studies indicate that the decline in motorcyclist head injuries and death due to head injuries declined dramatically immediately following the 1992 effective date of the helmet law. This is true even if one corrects for the continuing decline of motorcycle registration in California and the benefits of the safety program. Finally, while the bill eliminates the requirement that an adult wear a helmet, over 80% of the injured riders reported in the UCLA study were over the age of 21.