January 31, 2013 at 7:24 PM
Senate committee considers changes in motorcycle laws
A number of bills before the state Senate could relax regulations on Washington motorcycle riders, allowing them to ride without helmets and sometimes drive through red lights.
Senate Bill 5141 would allow motorcyclists to proceed through red lights, in certain instances. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, said he filed the bill because many motorcycles aren’t heavy enough to prompt weight-triggered traffic signals. Riders would be able to proceed through red lights if they wait a full signal cycle and the light doesn’t turn green.
Capt. Rob Huss, a spokesman for Washington State Patrol, said his agency opposes the bill because it could cause unnecessary accidents. More than 30 motorcycle advocates attended the hearing to support the bill, including Larry Walker of the Washington Road Riders Association.
“We end up sitting in a traffic signal with absolutely no way to get out of it,” Walker said.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, filed House Bill 5143 allowing motorcyclists 18 and over to ride without helmets. Several motorcyclists spoke in favor of the bill, including Confederation of Clubs of Washington spokesman David Devereaux, who said the current law mandating helmets was a “violation of privacy.”
Health-care and traffic-safety advocates also testified, but in opposition to the bill. Dan Overstreet of AAA Washington said passing the bill would be irresponsible, as motorcycles account for 3 percent of vehicles in the state, but 14 percent of accidents.
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