Should Motorcyclist Be Forced To Wear Helmets?

Is it a matter of safety?  Or a matter of freedom?  A.B.A.T.E, a group that promotes the rights of motorcycle and ATV drivers, says Illinois is one of two states that does not require riders to wear a helmet.  And they want to keep it that way.   Decades-long member, Jim Heatherton says helmets obstruct sight and sound.

"You're not riding aware," said Heatherton.  "If you can't hear or see all the way around you, you're basically just..."

However  in 2011, 59% of the fatally injured motorcycle riders were not wearing a helmet.

"Helmets don't always save lives," said Heatherton.  "Sometimes they will.  Sometimes they wont."

He and longtime friend, Donald Koehler are both members of A.B.A.T.E, a national organization that not only teaches the ins and outs of safe riding, but gets political when they need to.  For years, Illinois legislators have tried to pass laws that require riders to wear helmets.  Each time, A.B.A.T.E members lobby, rally, and the bill fails.

"They've been working on it for several years, but because there's enough of us members, we've been able to defeat them," said Koehler.

He thinks politicians should ride a mile, themselves, before having the authority to tell him how he should ride.

"If they were right there riding with us, and they've experienced what we have, I'm betting they wouldn't want to be wearing a helmet," said Koehler.

On May 4th, A.B.A.T.E plans to ride from Decatur to Springfield to rally for motorcycle awareness.  For more details on how to join, go to
Current Conditions