Motorcyclists in Missouri could soon have the option to leave the helmet at home. Missouri lawmakers approved legislation on Friday that would repeal the helmet requirement for licensed riders 18 years and older. The bill now awaits approval from Governor Mike Parson.

The bill also would require riders who omit the helmet to have health insurance. Many safety experts say repeal of helmet laws means riders are more likely to need that insurance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets saved the lives of an estimated 1870 motorcyclists in 2017, and 750 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. The number of motorcycle crash deaths has more than doubled since a low of 2,116 fatalities in 1997.

Helmets are already optional for motorcyclists in Illinois. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association data, 146 motorcyclists lost their lives on Illinois roadways in 2015, an increase of 24% over 2014. Missouri reported 90 deaths in 2015 due to motorcycle crashes, a 3% increase. However, the number of registered cycles in Illinois is nearly double that of Missouri. According to, in 2013, Illinois reported 352,318 cycles compared to 184,723 registered in Missouri.

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