Rep. Carl Anderson co-sponsors helmet use bill

  • Friday, January 24, 2014

An increase in motorcycle-related fatalities has driven Rep. Carl Anderson and two other House members to file a bill that would require all riders to wear helmets.

House Bill 4500 was filed last week by Reps. Anderson, Wendell Gilliard, and J. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston.

Gilliard and Anderson said it’s time Palmetto State residents consider such a measure because state roads are getting crowded. In 2013, the number of motorcyclists killed went up to 121 from 110 in 2012, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

“That is a drastic increase,” said Anderson (D-Georgetown). “This is a concern especially for me. We don’t have many motorcycle deaths in Georgetown County but my district covers parts of Williamsburg and Horry counties. The death rate is higher in Horry.”

The number of motorcyclists killed has been on the rise since 2010, when the department of public safety recorded 81 deaths. Gilliard said South Carolinians must acknowledge the current helmet law was passed when the state didn’t have as much business and traffic. Now with more cars on the road, there’s a higher probability of a motorcyclist’s life being lost in a crash, Gilliard added.

“If we can save one life, this will be successful,” Anderson said.

A similar bill was introduced in 2012 by former Sen. Ralph Anderson but never made it out of committee.

For a bill to make it to the floor for the House to vote on, it must first be approved by committees and subcommittees.

At the time, Gov. Nikki Haley also threatened to veto Anderson’s bill, had it been approved by the legislature. Haley’s stance on the matter has not changed since, said her spokesman.

Carl Anderson said he is unsure the bill will make it through committee and the House and Senate this year.

The state already has a law that requires those under 21 to wear a helmet.

But a bill that makes helmets mandatory for all motorcyclists won’t have an easy ride to the floor, should it ever leave the committee level.

Anderson said if the bill passes, municipalities will have the option of creating their own rules for their cities and towns.

Times reporter Scott Harper contributed to this story.

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