Motorcycling in most parts of Tennessee can be a true thrill. With the state’s beautiful valleys and scenic drives, it comes as no surprise that thousands of motorcyclists hit highways and interstates every day. Yet in addition to the undoubtedly carefree lifestyle that largely characterizes motorcycling, there also exists a significant number of motorcycle accidents each year. Yet many ask, who should call the verdict on helmet use, and should motorcyclists have the freedom to ride helmetless? 

The Times Free Press reported on an apparent rise in motorcycle accidents in Tennessee in recent years, but also provides state research findings that helmets are 37 percent effective at preventing fatal injuries to drivers. To spread information on motorcycle safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hands out grants to states for motorcyclist training and motorist awareness. According to Times Free Press, the Government Accountability Office stressed that the grant money could be better spent if Congress relaxed guidelines and allowed states to have more flexibility regarding motorcycling laws. Such flexibility could open doors for new ways to increase helmet use, educate police and increase motorcycle safety awareness.  

More recently, WKRN News pointed out that Tennessee lawmakers have been reconsidering helmet laws in the state. However, despite the warnings of health and safety experts, many speak out against tightening the grip on helmet laws. The proposed bill does not specify the areas where motorcyclists will have the freedom to ride without helmets, but many riders stress the importance of individual choice. Although the bill has not yet passed, lawmakers still grapple with the difficult topic of motorcycle accidents and the government’s role in enforcing helmet use.