Governor Kitzhaber's Testimony
Chair Montgomery and Members of the House Transportation Committee:
Senate Bill 583 A-Engrossed would repeal the motorcycle helmet law for
riders 21 years of age and older. While I respect the desire of motorcycle
riders to choose whether to wear helmets, maintaining the current law is
clearly in the best interest of the citizens of Oregon.
As an emergency room physician, I know the physical, emotional and
financial damage caused by motorcycle crashes. I also know that riders
wearing helmets are often spared the worst outcome: a lifetime brain injury.
This knowledge is supported by current research, including the "1999 Report
of the Motorcycle Helmet Technical Review" issued by the Oregon Health
Policy Institute. The Institute, a coalition comprised of Oregon Health
Sciences University, Oregon State University and Portland State University,
was created by the Legislature to advise lawmakers on health policy. The
conclusion is inescapable that helmets save lives, prevent injuries, save
tax dollars and limit insurance premiums. If our helmet law were to be
repealed the number of head injury patients that are covered by the Oregon
Health Plan and by private insurance companies will undoubtedly increase,
therefore passing substantial costs on to tax payers and those who pay for
I strongly oppose SB 583 A-Engrossed in its current form.
Sincerely, John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.
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