Motorcyclists risk the ride without the helmet

It's summertime and for many motorcyclists, it's the ideal time to break out the bikes and hit the streets. But with more riders on the road, it might make some want to revisit the law about wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle.

According to officials with the Amarillo Police Department, anyone who is 21 years of age or older can ride a motorcycle without a helmet. However, those individuals must also carry either insurance that would cover them in the event of an accident or proof that they took a safety course through the Texas Department of Transportation.

"It's just a safety issue," said Corporal Jerry Neufeld with APD. "Our motorcycle officers, they don't get on their bikes and go anywhere without wearing their helmet. By law they're not required to, they're carrying insurance and they would be able to not but rules and regulations and just for their safety. We want to make sure they're always going to wear that helmet."

Wearing a helmet is a controversial issue for many riders. Dana Hodges, owner of Hog Heaven and avid motorcyclist herself, said some riders feel everyone should wear a helmet no matter what age. However, there are a few, including Hodges, who said helmets can sometimes do more harm than good.

"Running around town, it's inconvenient," said Hodges. "You get off the bike and you've got to carry your helmet around everywhere you go. When you turn, you've got big, bulky helmet on and you've got some blind spots and you really have to crank your neck around to see," she added. "Then you hear about people that would've been fine if they didn't have their helmet on due to a broken neck or something and I've known people in crashes that didn't have their helmet on and walked away totally fine, so it's a risk I take."

Even Cpl. Neufeld admitted a helmet won't always protect a rider from an accident.

"In some collisions that helmet is probably not going to matter because people will drive at a high rate of speed and it's not going to help you much," he said. "But, in slower speed collisions, that helmet may keep your head from bouncing across the pavement and that's what it's designed to do."

Still, helmets are only mandatory for rides under the age of 21 and Hodges says the choice for bikers who are of age, is all about personal preference and the First Amendment.

"It's a personal preference. Everybody is going to have that level of comfort and what they feel like doing," said Hodges. "I don't think anybody should tell me what I can or can't do or what's required when I go ride."