Safety versus freedom in the form of a motorcycle helmet is back in front of Maine lawmakers. There is a new bill on mandatory helmet use for all Maine motorcyclists. It is being reviewed by a legislative committee.

Medical groups joined groups concerned with traumatic brain injuries in asking the Transportation Committee to pass the bill. A similar bill in 2009 was rejected. The Maine Medical Association said helmets reduce traumatic injuries in motorcycle accidents by almost 70% and the number of deaths by 37%. However, opponents said the proposed mandate is a freedom issue and that helmets are largely a dress code and can, at times, be an impediment to safety. They feel the issue is a matter of personal choice.

Now for a little history, Maine passed a law requiring the use of helmets in 1967, but it was repealed in 1977. The present law requires people under 18 to wear helmets.

Having become a rider of sorts this past year, I can say I would not ride my scooter without my helmet. Besides the fact it is cute and pink, I do feel it’s important. That is my choice. That is now the big question in front of this committee. Will it remain a choice or become a mandate.

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