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Should Tennessee’s Mandatory Helmet Law Be Repealed?

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For the last 20 years, a company of motorcyclists gathered at the State Capitol to encourage lawmakers to repeal the mandatory helmet law of Tennessee. The law was enacted in 1967 and remains a controversial topic for motorcycle riders.

The latest bill would allow anyone who is 21 years old and up with motorcycle insurance and health insurance (excluding TennCare) to ride their motorcycles without a helmet. If the pill passed, police would not be able to issue a citation for a helmet law violation, unless there is an additional citation issued for any other traffic violation.


To say the topic is controversial among motorcyclists in Tennessee may be a bit of an understatement. On the one hand, it is a well-known and proven fact helmets save lives. The chief medical officer offered the following statistics in favor of the mandatory helmet law:

  • Wearing a helmet can reduce the likelihood of head injuries by 69 percent
  • Wearing a helmet can reduce the likelihood of traumatic brain injury by 36 percent
  • Helmets reduces the number of deaths due to motorcycle accidents by 37 percent

Moreover, it has been argued that not requiring helmets would increase the rate of motorcycle accidents, which includes an increase in severe and traumatic accidents. As a result, medical care costs may increase throughout the state.

On the other hand, those who are against the mandatory helmet law often say, “let those who ride decide.” For those who support the proposed bill to repeal the mandatory helmet law, it is a matter of personal freedom and choice. The bill only supports adults who are over the age of 21 and are capable of understand the consequences of their decisions. Moreover, the huge concern of costs is adequately addressed in the bill, as it would only be applicable to riders who have motorcycle and health insurance that would help cover medical costs in the event they are involved in an accident. And according to the bill sponsor, the freedom to allow motorcyclists to ride without helmets may increase motorcycle tourism revenue for the state.


This controversy ultimately comes down to the debate of safety or freedom. However, one thing remains the same whether or not the bill passes. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, even if you were not wearing a helmet, you should still consult with an attorney to assess your rights and options in the situation.

The Law Office of Stanley A. Davis represents victims who have been injured in a motorcycle or car accident in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17


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