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Changes to Tennessee helmet law left behind

It's a question debated by motorcyclists and safety advocates alike: Should motorcycle riders have a choice when it comes to wearing a helmet? A recent bill that would have ended helmet laws for those over 21 was withdrawn by state lawmakers this week.

That means that motorcyclists who enjoy the freedom of riding without helmets have experienced a setback. But safety advocates, as well as some state lawmakers, believe that helmets really do save lives when motorcycle accidents occur.

Many motorcyclists simply don't want restrictions regarding the way they ride, despite studies that have shown the severe brain trauma that can result from accidents in which riders aren't wearing helmets.

One Tennessee rider says he always wears a helmet. Once, he went around a curve too fast and landed on his head on a gravel portion of a road. He thinks his helmet probably saved his life.

He's not alone, but others simply think helmets block their vision. As one rider tells Volunteer TV, "Helmets are vision impairing. When you have a helmet coming up to here, your peripheral vision is shot." Others say helmets take the fun and spontaneity out of riding, and others just don't want the government telling them what they can and cannot do.

Others argue that it's not worth the risk. Even at low speeds, motorcyclists can suffer severe brain injuries if they are involved in an accident, many of which are long-lasting.

Whether riders like it or not, laws are not changing for the time being.

Source: Volunteer TV, "Lawmakers pull bill; abandon changes Tennessee helmet law," Sara Shookman and Kate Burgess, Feb. 28, 2012

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