BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing changes to the state’s motorcycle laws, including bills designed to ease the requirement that riders wear helmets.

Current law requires all riders and passengers to wear protective head gear, except those participating in parades.

One proposed change would lift the helmet requirement for riders and passengers over the age of 21. Another would exempt riders whose motorcycles are registered in a state without a helmet law.

Other bills would ban children under 5 from riding on a motorcycle traveling more than 30 miles an hour, ban the sale of exhaust pipes designed to make motorcycles louder and prohibit cars from passing through groups of two or more motorcycles.

The bills are the subject of a Wednesday public hearing by the Transportation Committee at the Statehouse.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Comments (24)
  1. JohnC says:

    I believe very strongly that you are an idiot to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I do have a motorcycle license, and I always wear a helmet. Nontheless, I also believe that it is your right not to wear one. I also believe that it is your right not to wear a seatbelt. I also believe that it is the right of an insursance company not to pay a claim unless you do

  2. JCA says:

    I’m all for the law to limit the exhaust noise.If they don’t get that done, at LEAST get a noise thresh hold limit on the books…and enforce it.
    If some knucklehead wants to ride without a helmet, more power to them. It’s called thinning the herd.

  3. emom says:

    Well if they want to ride with out a helmet, FINE. But if they should crash, live and well have a brain injury .. Might I suggest, Pay for all the medical expenses yourself.. Don’t go looking for help from the insurance companies,and when they deny you which they can , do not look at the state to care for you ,, I do not want to pay for your care, Its not my fault you were careless, So why should the people of the state be responsible to care for you. Oh I know how selfish.. But look at it realistically. We already hate Paying for those that buck the system is this any different. Wear the helmet save a life and be protected.
    Oh and I am all for the noise control, Or how about motorcycles not allowed to go around a car with those pipes rattling its not fair to the drives when two of you go on either Sid of a car. lets put your rump in the car and do that to you , see how deaf you get.

  4. Tony D says:

    Right now insurance company’s do not provide Personal injury protection from a motorcycle accident for the operator and its passenger regardless if you have a helmet or not. Please take a second to read this.

  5. Tony D says:

    Also to emom those load exhaust pipes have saved my life numinous time in the ted Williams tunnel. People on there cell phones or women putting make-up have drifted into my lane several time and without me having load pipes they would have hit me. A quick twist of the throttle is all I need to let you know i am there and to watch out. I am sorry my load pipes disturbed your phone cell phone call but because I had them Im still here not dead on the side of the road because of you.

    1. emom says:

      Tony D Just in case you were wondering ,I understand what you say,, HOWEVER, I do not endanger my life nor those around me. I have maintained a clean driving record, All because I pay attention. I do not put makeup on will drive nor do I smoke. OH and just so you know I do not HOLD my cell phone I use a blue tooth, that way My hands are always on the wheel and my eyes are looking for people that are foolish and feel the need to endanger my life. Trust me I do sympathize with so many … HOWEVER have you every thought that those loud pipes in a tunnel no less can deafen a person and thus make you cringe , I mean have you thought of how High of a decibel it is especially in a tunnel echoing of the walls its a small space for that kind of noise, its ear piercing , Far worse than out side of a tunnel. Just a suggestion how about horns, that’s What I do , that gets their attention too. I don’t like the loud noise because its distracting to a driver whom is safe on the road and does care. But when a motorcycle is being just plain rude and blair’s that pipe sound all because they can its not right.
      I do not like being deafened , any more than most, But have to wonder if so many do it just because they want to more than safety. I only wish some would see it from this point rather than a I can point. there has to be a better way to alert a driver you are coming with out deafening those that do see you and will not endanger anyone. Like me, How about some sympathy for those that do care. Just asking ,,,

  6. donny says:

    What’s the law have to say about those motorcyclists who drive between cars when traffic is either stopped or moving slowly?… All lanes are full, mind you, but since they can squeeze through they pass everyone. I almost hit a guy doing this recently, as I switched lanes as I barely saw him…

    1. Tony D says:

      Its a moving violation Donny followed by I believe a 300 ticket and its heavily enforced. You guys have the wrong idea about bikers please watch this video

  7. Glenn L. Sihpol says:

    …I think that there are completely valid points of argument…to either support current helmet laws..or to..finally.(.I’ve been riding for forty plus years….) let those who ride it in a car..on a bycycle..moped..or on a motorcycle… some motorists are going drive recklessly..speed..ignore traffic laws…and perhaps..ultimately.injure.or..KILL THEMSELVES..and unfortunately.. perhaps.. others. and I doubt that a helmet is going save a body from the massive trauma.. which occurs during any travel speed accident ..I know there is a statistic out there somewhere..that states the effective speed level (14 MPH? ) that a helmet would save you from injury if involed in an MVA. right now and for years I’ve worn a “plastic bottle cap” in order to appear complient to the current Massachusetts helmet law..I wear it all the way to the N.H. border where quikly stow it in my side bag…and ride the roads of N.H. not only are they in better condition..but the people of N.H. seem to be more biker courtious and provide a safer more comfortable riding environment…also..please let me address the loud pipes issue…I ride..and my pipes are aftermarket…loud ? YES..! but not so loud to be lets cut the B.S. my fellow bikers…and tone it down…stop creating a problem with the WAY TOO LOUD PIPES..! For sure..while operating a MC..we are heard..long before operators of four wheelers (on cell phones..especially..) see us… but we really don’t need to be heard in the next city or state..! and finally.. be safe out there my fellow riders…

  8. Joe says:

    I believe riding without a helmet is like having unprotected sex with multiple partners over a long period of time. Yea, you might return home safely from your 50th ride of the year but on your 51st ride you end up in the hospital with lesions all over your busted head. In both cases it’s just a matter of time before your luck runs out!

  9. Joe says:

    Tony brings up many good points. I believe his overall point is that the majority of the time its not the biker causing accidents its the cars around them. As with anything in life, of course there are exceptions. Like the morons weaving in and out of traffic at 100mph or riding in between lanes of traffic. But if you ask any biker they will all say the same thing. It’s not you that you worry about its everyone around you.

    We keep changing laws and restrictions for new teen drivers and the amount of driving school hours they must take. All of which I agree with and support. However, they never realistically teach people about the two most dangerous vehicles on the road, big trucks and motorcycles. If you’ve never driven, or been a passenger in a medium to large size truck pulling a trailer then you have no clue how to anticipate their actions and respond accordingly.

    For example, we all see the signs on trucks CAUTION! THIS VEHICLE MAKES WIDE TURNS! But most people really have no clue why and what it really means. Part of drivers Ed should include a certain amount of observation hours as a passenger in a big truck. After the first hour, a student would understand what those signs mean and how so many drivers out there have no clue what they mean. Then when those students start driving on their own and see a truck attempting to make a turn at an intersection they will know how to react without losing the nose of their car or causing an accident. One day riding as a passenger in a truck and one on a motorcycle would teach them more than the rest of the entire year long class.

    1. emom says:

      I agree with you ., I did have the pleasure to be taught how to drive by a truck driver. A dear friend of the family. I also learned about defensive driving. Something very few have . Teens are in to much of a hurry as are most adults. I always stay at least 2 car lengths behind a truck with such signs. knowing there is a possibility they could turn. I do not want a crushed vehicle, But I have seen it and ask WHAT ARE YOU EVEN THINKING.
      But then I ask my self why do motorcyclist feel the need to be heard clear across town. Like I said above, if a cyclist drove in a vehicle of a safe driver and heard and saw it from our point of view, I wonder if they would feel different. I feel bad for truckers when they suddenly have to slam on their brakes. you guys just can not stop on a dime. I cringe when I hear those air brakes, and wonder who is going to get hurt or killed,
      Better driving instructions is needed for any and all first time drivers, Longer time learning and being behind a wheel in situations that could save a life. I am blessed to have had such experience, Its saved my life , my families and others , Quick thinking and observation of your surrounding it a must, far to many do not possess such abilities

      1. Tony D says:

        emom Ill agree that there are people out there who just like making noises but here is my point you heard my loud pipes now your pissed your ears hurt. You say to yourself god dam bikers with there loud pipes but guess what you just acknowledge the fact I was there and you diddnt switch lanes and hit me cause I was on a quite bike and in your blind spot

      2. Joe says:

        I agree with most of what you said emom. But I don’t understand the “heard across town” and the “if a cyclist drove in a vehicle of a safe driver and heard and saw it from our point of view, I wonder if they would feel different” comments.

        Do you think people who ride don’t own a car? A car that they drive more regularly than the bike they ride only 6 months out of the year? The answer is yes, they do drive cars and I’m quite positive that when they do drive their car that they pay much more attention to motorcycles than people who don’t ride. Which means that I’m sure they have heard a “loud” bike while safely driving their car.

        The issue of loud bikes is only an issue amongst people who don’t like the noise. People who can’t understand it, people who don’t like it, people who complain about anything that “affects their own little world” or people who don’t understand why there so loud.

        Tony said it best. You hear the noise and you know a bike is around you. It is mostly a positive safety issue . If people didn’t hear a bike coming then its harder to see. There have been studies done on the relationship between motorcycle accidents involving quiet bikes vs louder bikes. The majority of bikes in accidents are quieter bikes. Not all, but a majority. Google ‘loud exhaust and bike safety’.

        On top of that, its just another part of Americana and history that some want to get rid of. Loud classic cars, loud bikes, loud boats or anything built with good old fashioned raw excessive American horsepower. Why do we need to build things like that? Because we can and because we always have. It’s a part of our culture. A part of our culture that around here you only see or hear from April thru October. It’s a sign of summer when you start to hear those annoying sounds of pure American horsepower that doesn’t meet todays epa requirements.

        This country has eliminated so much of our culture. Some for the better, some for worse. Can’t we just keep one old school part of our culture that represents a great time of innovation in our country? A part of our culture that brings so much joy to so many people. A part of our culture, that for lack of an intelligent explanation, is just so damn awesome and cool. Or is that to much to ask?

      3. emom says:

        Joe I think you misunderstood me.. OK , I realize they own cars, and that they use them 6 months out of the year. BUT I have to wonder do most people who ride bikes actually understand how deafening it is to a non bike rider. I have never rode a motorcycle, Love them But never rode one. When I hear a motorcycle its in some cases very deafening, to the point I have to block my ears from it, such a surprise and so unexpected. Yet I know I see this bike coming up . But when they are right next to you and then feel the need to rev it up to a sound breaking decibel. I have to wonder can they hear how loud it truly is. I have a hearing loss in one ear from working in a factory many years ago. So I wonder how many bikers also have a hearing loss and are just not aware of how loud their bikes are to others. Yes some are rude and out to make problems. Same with the loud cars, some of those dual exhausts are just way above noise levels. I am not picking on those that care , But merely trying to make aware that they are very deafening to us. And in a tunnel that’s ear piercing and hurts many ears, Especially children. Also when wearing a helmet it blocks most of the sounds out,
        I will say I do not like extremely loud noise, But I do not understand why we must endure those loud noises all because some feel the need to be heard. As for the accident parts well its negligence on some of them , Yes some its because of another driver. many factors in accidents.
        As for the part about our American history I understand that , But at what level is the noise excessive. Like I said I love bikes Harley’s are my favorite, the other bikes are mere toys, I just will not ride on one. I guess its fear, I have sat on them Just will not ride one.. But I am totally respectfully around them and well only ask that they respect me as a non biker, as I do not drive to endanger but look out for all as well as my self. I hope I clarified some… Have a safe ride,

  10. Deuce says:

    A helmet saved my life recently. But I still believe in choice. Ban loud pipes? NEVER. My pipes have saved me many times! Nothing is more dangerous than a motorcycle you cant hear ! A helmet will save your life on a real bad day…but pipes will save your life every single day!

    1. Jean says:

      You couldn’t have said it better Deuce!

  11. Jack says:

    Could you even amagine if you were to enter a non helmet state that required BY LAW that you had to remove your helmet??? OUTRAGEIOS DONT YOU THINK??

  12. Ed says:

    I have had it with the riders who feel it’s perfectly O.K. to install loud pipes under the pretense of “safety” . Get real, it’s adults acting like little boys making their toys as loud and intrusive on others as they possibly can. How can we leave it to that same mind-set to decide on helmet use ? it’s a fact that states without helmet laws have higher rate of deaths and severe injury.I for one do not want to have that self inflicted cost passed to me and it will be as more head injury patients require total care. Does this mean that auto drivers will no longer be required to wear seat belts in MA so we can “enjoy” that non constraining , no belt feeling?

    1. Evan says:

      New law: I have had it with these flashy motorists trying to blind me with their ridiculously effective headlights! From now on, all headlights should only be allowed to light the road no more than five feet in front of the vehicle. It’s ridiculous, these overgrown children and their intrusively gaudy displays of opulence!

  13. Edwin Gorsten says:

    I agree with idea of this new law. I often hear people commenting on how motorcycle helmets aren’t exceptional and can truly cause much more problems compared to if you’re certainly not wearing one. While that might be the case in most extremely exceptional situations, for the majority of us, sporting a helmet can be a no-brainer (also a regulation in some states). Below are a number of common misconceptions about headgear.

    1. Ed says:

      If riders want to change the helmet requirement, I say go for it ! Means more doners for seriously ill patients. Just don’t expect me to pay for the helmet less riders hospital/nursing home care. On the loud pipes – the safety issue is beyond being believable. It’s men acting like boys , seeing who can make the most noise,regardless of the disturbance it causes. I have seen no positive action by bikers to police themselves on this. If I have a small car should I set it up to make all kinds of loud noises so bigger cars & trucks will not hit me. C’mon.

  14. BobInAndover says:

    On the loud pipe question: I’m a rider, and I cringe every time I’m around some moron with louder-than-stock pipes. It is NOT a safety issue – loud pipes do nothing at all but annoy non-motorcyclists, and they certainly won’t protect you from an inattentive driver (human hearing can’t identify the direction of low-frequency sounds very well; the most you’re going to do with your straight pipes is startle a driver, and then God knows what they’re going to do.) If you really think that being heard is necessary for your safety, there’s this little thing called a “horn,” and all it takes is the push of a button. If the stock horn on your bike isn’t loud enough, replace it – it makes a LOT more sense, safety-wise, than replacing your pipes (which will prevent YOU from hearing a lot of things, ALL the time).

    I also have to laugh when I come across one of the “loud pipes save lives” crowd who will claim it’s all for “safety,” and then wear little or no protective gear beyond a worthless half-helmet. Yeah, you’re pretty obviously concerned with safety, pal.

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