Wednesday July 30, 1997

The Texas Department of Public Safety's Motorcycle Safety Bureau has released guidelines to clarify who is allowed to ride without a helmet under exemptions in that state's recently modified helmet law, reports the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).

Under the new law, which goes into effect on September 1st, motorcyclists over the age of 20 are allowed to ride without helmets if they have either completed a rider-education course that meets or exceeds Motorcycle Safety Foundation standards, or if they are covered by a health insurance plan that provides at least $10,000 in health benefits for injuries resulting from an accident while operating or riding upon a motorcycle.

Additionally, Texas motorcyclists who meet the exemption requirements can apply for a helmet exemption sticker from the Department of Public Safety that will alert law enforcement personnel that they have complied with the law. Out-of-state motorcyclists are not eligible to obtain the exemption sticker. The fee for the sticker is $5.

Out-of-state motorcyclists, or Texas motorcyclists who elect to not acquire the helmet exemption sticker, will be able to ride helmetless providing they are able to show law enforcement officials proof of either adequate insurance coverage or safety course completion.

The law, while achieving the goal of repealing at least part of the state's mandatory helmet law, unfortunately leaves motorcyclists open to being repeatedly stopped by law enforcement personnel trying to figure out if the rider has complied with the exemptions, notes Sean Maher, AMA legislative specialist.

"While we think that adults should have the freedom to choose whether to ride without a helmet, this law creates a morass of ambiguity,'' Maher said. "If you opt not to obtain a sticker, or if you ride in from another state, see riders without helmets and take yours off, you're suddenly subject to traffic stops at the whim of local authorities. Even if you carry the proper forms, that's one heck of an inconvenience.''

From: "Sean M. Maher" smaher@ama-cycle.org

Contact: Chris Kallfelz
Phone: (614) 891-2425
Fax: (614) 891-5012

The American Motorcyclist Association is a 220,000-member non-profit organization. Established in 1924, the Association's purpose is to pursue, protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members.

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