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Helmet law back on the table

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Senators B.J. Cruz and Tina Muna-Barnes have introduced legislation that could bring back a law that was repealed more than a decade ago. The helmet law legislation is receiving mixed reviews in the community.

The sirens are already sounding. Less than 24 hours ago, the vice-speaker and senator brought the helmet law back to the table. Cruz said, "I thought it was imperative that we revisit this year because as the number of riders go up, we don't want the number of fatalities to go up."

With ten traffic fatalities this year to date - three of which included motorcycle or bicycle crashes - they don't want to see that number increase. Muna-Barnes said, "From a mother's perspective, I think this kind of helmet safety regulation has to come back to play."

Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an un-helmeted motorcyclist is 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash than a non-helmeted rider. Here on Guam, cycling is a big part of the island's cruising culture and the law as it currently exists mandates that minors ages 18 and younger wear a helmet.

Military are required by law to wear their helmets on- and off-base.

Mike Cullimore is a Coast Guard retiree and says, "Someone goes down on a bike either 18 or younger than 18 and someone over that age, either way there head is going to bounce off the pavement without a helmet."

Nut others like Harley Davidson Store owner Bill Neilsen say it's all about education, noting, "There are two types of riders and no law is going to prevent poor judgment."

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the helmet law primarily from riders who carry a good amount of political leverage. As a result, senators have been afraid to take this bill on, which requires that passengers wear their helmets as well. But the question you have to ask is whether putting safety first is the small price you'll pay for a good ride.

Vice-Speaker Cruz said, "It's my responsibility I think to take it on. And if it costs me votes it costs me votes, but I'm not just going to sit here, draw a salary, and not do things because I'm afraid it will affect my re-election."

By Heather Hauswirth

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