Helmetless motorcycle law fails to pass House after drawing mixed views

Helmetless motorcycle law draws opposition and support

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One state lawmaker said it's time to let motorcyclists in Louisiana ride without a helmet.

HB 337, which is sponsored by Rep. Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, would make it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to ride a motorcycle without head protection. The full House could debate the bill this week.

Glen Fontenot, who has been riding motorcycles for 40 years, supports the bill.

"When you wake up in the morning sir, life is dangerous. I mean I'm sorry, but it is the truth," Fontenot said.

Fontenot believes the decision should be up to the rider.

"I think it'd ought to be a choice, personally. You know cover your insurance, you ought to be good to go without a helmet sir," Fontenot said.

Kenneth Driver agreed with Fontenot, saying helmets don't make a difference when riders get into accidents.

"You gonna get hurt regardless, whether you got a helmet on or not. But me, I like to ride without a helmet," Driver said.

However, there's one woman in Baton Rouge who strongly disagrees.

"I have a flashback of being in an ambulance, screaming and crying just screaming why me, why me," said Rochelle Bravata.

Bravata suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident last fall that changed her life. She said it's because of a small helmet that she was able to survive the crash.

Bravata was riding with a friend on his motorcycle in Baton Rouge after coming back from an LSU football game. An underage drunk driver collided with them, sending Bravata into the air. She broke her kneecap, her hip, and her femur in three different places. Now, she has to undergo painful physical therapy.

She said this bill would only put more people in danger.

"Absolutely ridiculous, absolutely, no. I would vote completely against that," Bravata said. "The only thing besides god that saved my life, right now, is this motorcycle helmet."

If HB 337 becomes a law, Louisiana would join 28 other states that allow helmetless riding.

This law was voted on by the House last week and missed a simple majority by four votes. However, it garnered enough support to be heard again.

In the end, the bill again failed in the House with a vote of 48-32. It needed 53 votes to pass.

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