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Utah legislators abandon motorcycle helmet bill

Published February 7, 2013 5:46 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Motorcyclists managed to run over and kill a bill in the Utah Legislature that would have required them to wear helmets — and did it before the bill was even introduced.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said Thursday he abandoned the effort — which had been earlier publicized in the news media and criticized by motorcycle groups — after discussing it with the Senate Republican caucus. "It was clear that I don't have enough votes to pass it."

That came before the bill was formally introduced. Weiler said he decided not to seek a hearing, which he said likely would have attracted scores of people on both sides, because "I don't want to put on a sideshow when I know that I can't get it through."

He said "personal liberty is always the objection" from groups that feel a mandatory helmet law contradicts the spirit of the freedom of the open road — and some conservatives who like to preserve as much freedom from government intrusion as possible.

But Weiler has argued that helmets save lives and dramatically increase safety, and save taxpayers money by preventing big medical bills that the state may end up paying.

Over the past decade, about two of every three motorcyclist fatalities in Utah have occurred among riders who were not wearing helmets — an average of 17 such deaths a year.

Weiler said he will likely attempt the bill again in the future. "My core values have not changed," he said.