Indiana bill looks to make helmets mandatory for minors

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — An Indiana lawmaker is looking to make it illegal for a child to ride their bicycle without a helmet.

If passed, House Bill 1174 would make it mandatory that every person under the age of 18 to wear a safety helmet when riding bicycles, skateboards, roller skates and non-motorized scooters while on public property. The proposal is still in committee, but if it moves on and eventually becomes law, it would impose an infraction with a $25 fine for the minors or their parents if they are found not wearing a helmet on their wheels. It would also give police power to impound the wheels until they can prove they have a helmet that meets the requirement.

Republican State Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, authored the bill. He said those penalties were put in there so that people would take it seriously. Frye does not know how far his bill will go but said sometimes things are proposed to start the conversation.

“I’ve had a lot of contact on social media from constituents about the bill,” said Frye. “I’ve had a lot of contact from different media personnel and so, yeah, we are getting the awareness. We are getting a conversation going and hopefully it’ll result in safer kids.”

The ultimate goal for Frye is to get helmets on more young Hoosiers and prevent as many traumatic brain injuries as they can.

“We really never intended for a police officer to go out and fine a kid,” said Frye. “What we wanted them to do was give them a helmet. In the bill, there was a provision for the helmets to be donated to any young person who can’t afford one.”

According to the most recent version of the bill, it would establish the Youth Helmet Requirement Fund through the Indiana Homeland Security Foundation. To qualify, families would have to prove that they are Indiana residents who meet the requirements for Federal free or reduced price lunch programs. Law enforcement officials would have to verify that the helmets are going to people under the age of 18 and that they fit properly.

He said only one person in the committee testified against the bill in the last meeting on January 21 but that there are things some of his other committee members did not like about the bill. Because of that, he is making some changes that he thinks will take care of many of the reservations people have.

The bill is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, January 28 and could be voted on.

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