East Tennesseans Debate Helmet Law

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Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - To wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle or not? Is it a question of safety or a question of freedom? Depends on who you ask.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has both sides of the debate.

There's a lot of debate about whether you should or should not wear a helmet. It's even debatable among motorcyclists. Some say you should. Others say you shouldn't be forced to.

Motorcycles are as popular in East Tennessee as apple pie and baseball are to America, but should legislators dictate to you about what they feel is safe or not? Depends on who you ask.

"Let each person make their own judgment whether they want to wear it or not. I don't think it's for a legislator to tell me where I can wear a seat belt or a helmet. It's none of their business," Kenny Rogers.

"I'm not saying they're real comfortable and they don't make your hair look too good but I think as far as being responsible I think they're the best thing to do. You never know when an accident is going to happen," says Tim Fowler.

But some doctors say statistics tell the tale. Dr. Clinton Wight says there used to be tough motorcycle helmet laws in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Kentucky. "Those have been repealed and since then they saw immediately a great increase in fatalities and deaths."

Dr. Wight says people who wear helmets face better chances in recovering from head trauma than those who don't. "You may continue to b4e in a coma and it may not be recoverable which certainly puts a burden on those who care for you."

Not to mention the costs to you or society for those injured who wear helmets versus those who don't.

"With a helmet would cost about ten thousand dollars in hospitalization. They save an average that jumped up to forty, fifty thousand dollars," Dr. Wight says.

One motorcyclist says it's really a Catch-22. It's his right to choose versus him being forced to pay for others healthcare costs.

The bill has passed the Senate but still faces passage by a Budget Subcommittee and one more before debate in the State House.

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