Rally held for a bill to change helmet laws for motorcyclists

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 10:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -Rallying at the West Virginia State Capitol bikers came together to raise awareness for a new West Virginia bill; hoping to change helmet laws in the state.

Lanty Hammons, the event organizer is a coal miner who has worked to push Senate Bill 77 along. He says the laws pose a problem especially for those who live near the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, like him.

“We want it to be our choice we don’t want to outlaw helmets but we want it to be choice,” said Hammons, “none of my friends will come down to ride and it’s sad because it’s sad that they are missing out on our beautiful scenery.”

The bill would allow adults over 21 years of age with a motorcycle license and two years of experience to choose whether or not they want to wear a helmet.

Hammons said 35 out of 50 states have relaxed helmet laws and it’s something out-of-staters like Tom Gooch from Gallipolis, OH, came all the way to Charleston to fight for.

“We avoid the state of West Virginia because the majority of the group do not wear helmets as myself,” said Gooch.

Usually he rides with 25 to 50 people and most of the time they end up avoiding the mountain state.

“If that law weren’t in effect we would be in Huntington more, Charleston more, Ravenswood more,” said Gooch.

Unlike Gooch, Tom Hamer chooses to wear a helmet because it saved his life. He says despite their differences on whether to wear a helmet or not when riding, it should be a decision that’s made by the rider(s).

“It’s not about for or against its about having a choice,” said Hamer.” With the law we have right now it is keeping thousands of dollars maybe even millions from coming through the state.”

West Virginia riders are hoping to change the law with Senate Bill 77 and are working to encourage outsiders to come in to help their goal of giving a choice to those who ride.

Senate Bill 77 should go to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sometime this week.

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