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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Amending Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law would increase medical costs for everyone, a University of Tennessee-Knoxville researcher said Tuesday.

David Halstead, who heads UT-Knoxville’s Sports Biomechanics Impact Research Laboratory, said most people who choose not to wear helmets are uninsured.

“The very people who won’t wear a helmet are the people who don’t have insurance, and you and I are going to pay for their hospital costs,” Halstead said.

Tennessee and 24 other states require helmets. A proposal being considered by Tennessee legislators would allow motorcyclists over age 21 to ride without a helmet.

Halstead said helmets reduce the risk of cycling head injuries 85 percent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the public pays most of the cost for treatment of injuries to unhelmeted riders.

“Nobody likes the state telling them they have to wear seat belts or motorcycle helmets,” Halstead said. “The reason the state has a right to do it is because its going to cost the public money if we don’t.”

Contact: David Halstead (423-974-2070)