GOP looks to stop federal funding of motorcycle helmet checkpoints

Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) this week proposed legislation that would stop the federal government from giving states money to enforce motorcycle helmet laws.

Sensenbrenner said his Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act would protect the rights of motorcyclists and promote crash prevention more effectively. Under current law, the Department of Transportation (DOT) offers grants to states to enforce helmet laws, but Sensenbrenner said the DOT often uses this money to manipulate state laws.

"This will stop the DOT from manipulating State policies with federal money," Sensenbrenner said in a letter to other House members seeking support for the bill.

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"This bill also contains language to force the DOT to focus motorcycle safety efforts on crash prevention programs, not national helmet mandates," he wrote.

Sensenbrenner said his bill tweaks current law to remove a requirement that state highway plans must prevent motorcycle accidents and reduce injuries. His bill would only require state plans to aim at reduced accidents, which would be seen as automatically helping to reduce injuries.

"This small change will make a significant impact because it highlights that preventing accidents is the best way to save motorcyclists' lives," he said.

His bill is cosponsored by nine House Republicans.