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Helmet Advocates Point to FL

In recent weeks, Florida has become the national poster child for what not to do in states that are debating whether to drop mandatory helmet laws. Safety advocates point to the state’s sharp increase in motorcycle deaths after repeal of its helmet law in 2000, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Motorcycle enthusiasts have spearheaded a nationwide move to repeal helmet laws. Four states rejected the idea, while debate is ongoing in Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New York and Washington.

But  trauma doctors, insurers and traffic safety groups show how Florida's motorcycle death toll rose from 160 three years prior to repeal to 550 in 2006, the all-time high. (The death toll dropped during the Great Recession).

A lobbyist for ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) -- a group that fought to get rid of Florida’s helmet law -- told the Times that the rise in deaths was due to an increase in motorcycle registrations, not because of a relaxed helmet law.

Riders in Florida can go without helmets if they are 21 or older and have $10,000 of personal injury insurance coverage.  Critics of the law say there is no way to enforce the insurance requirement; in any event, serious accidents cost far more.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.