Utah Legislature: Bill creates incentive for motorcyclists, ATV riders to wear helmets

Published: Sunday, Jan. 31 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove's bill doesn't make it mandatory that motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders wear helmets. But it creates an incentive for those who do.

HB93 passed the House Transportation Committee unanimously with a favorable recommendation Friday afternoon, and it's now headed for the entire House.

Motorcycle and ATV riders stopped by cops for a moving violation would get $8 shaved off their ticket if they were wearing a helmet, according to the bill.

"So what the message to the rider is, yeah, you did something wrong, but because you were being safe and wearing a helmet, you get ($8) off your fine," said Menlove, R-Garland. Conservatives have argued that the lack of a mandatory helmet law is about people's right to choose whether they want to wear helmets.

The Utah State Parks and Recreation supports the bill. Steve Thompson, president of the Weber County chapter of American Bikers Aiming Towards Education — which describes itself as guarding motorcyclists' rights — said his chapter is taking no position on the bill. He said some individual bikers are against it, but he personally is not.

The bill originally was going to shave $10 off a moving violation ticket, but state number-crunchers found the state could potentially lose about $11,000.

Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork, noted that in these times of depressed revenue and massive budget cuts, the Legislature is scrutinizing any bill that will deplete state coffers of $10,000 or more. That began a debate during the Friday committee meeting of how much the incentive should be.

Menlove first suggested $5, but the committee decided that it wouldn't be enough of an incentive to entice people to wear helmets. They ultimately calculated an $8 ticket would reduce revenue by just under $10,000.

Rep. Julie Fisher, R-Fruit Heights, asked Menlove to ask Utah State Courts whether it can take $8, as opposed to $5 or $10.

"If you could find out, I'm willing to vote for this," Fisher said before voting in favor of the bill.

e-mail: lhancock@desnews.com

Twitter: laurahancock

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