Motorcycle helmet laws and what do they mean for The Gulf Coast?

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Thursday in every newscast, we’re raising awareness about motorcycle safety, and the dangers of riding.

In the Port City, it’s not rare to see bikers wearing a helmet. But in our neighboring state of Florida, riders can “wear a helmet at your own risk.”

“It used to be flip flops and T-shirts and go down the road. Now, you see more people get on and ride responsibly and ride with all of the gear,” said Fred Wheeler, a long time motorcycle riding instructor and member of Dixie ABATE Alabama.

That may be the case in Alabama, but in 31 states across the country, it’s a different story.

“Law Enforcement and the public, in general, can educate and inform these motorcyclists and bicyclists to wear a helmet then the statistics would get better and people will seem to come out of crashes better,” said Sgt. Bill Gormley with Florida Highway Patrol.

In 19 states, including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee, just to name a few of our neighboring states, all motorcyclists must wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle.

But in Florida and Michigan, there are age and insurance requirements.

In Florida, if you’re under 21, regardless of insurance coverage, you must wear a helmet. But if you’re over 21, “And you carry the PIP Insurance on your motorcycle. You can ride without a helmet after 21,” said Sgt. Gormley.

About 300 accidents happen in the state of Florida every week between motorcyclists and bicycles, according to Sgt. Gormley. Gormley said in a car or truck, you have a shell around you. On a bicycle, you have no shell around you. The only shell you have is that helmet on your head and statistics show it works. So, it’s advisable.”

Although helmets play a huge role in safety, and helmets are required in Alabama. One biker group believes the state can do more to reduce motorcycle fatalities and accidents, questioning motorcycle laws in Alabama.

“Being the last state without a skills test when getting a motorcycle endorsement. Every other state in the country requires either a skills test and or taking a motorcycle safety course in order to get licensing and show that you can operate it correctly. Here in Alabama, they don’t require that,” said Michael Stieber with Dixie ABATE Alabama.

Sgt. Gormley tells News 5’s Amber Grigley, in most motorcycle involved accidents, motorcyclists are not at fault. As it pertains to the roads becoming safer, it’s going to take a joint effort between motorists and motorcyclists to pay more attention and drive defensively.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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