DEAL'S GAP ON A GOLDWING

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TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN (TAIL OF THE DRAGON)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

MOTORCYCLE RIDERS PROTEST NEW HELMET LAW by Ken Luallen

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Around 50 motorcycle riders rumbled past the Governor's Mansion in Downtown Raleigh Tuesday to protest tougher helmet standards that took effect at midnight.

Discuss This Story"I don't believe the government has the power to attach an appliance to your body," said protester Lynn Lester of Goldston.Lester joined the riders in circling the mansion for ten minutes. They protest a new law that bans the road use of helmets that haven't received North Carolina Department ofTransportation certification. The change closes a loophole that left soft hats and scull caps as hard shell helmet alternatives."It doesn't matter if I'm wearing a helmet," said a rider from Holly Springs who declined to give his name because he was riding without head protection. "If something's going to happen it doesn't matter if I'm wearing a helmet."Lawmakers who passed the updated helmet law argued proper head protection does matter, cited years of studies that show helmets can prevent and minimize serious injury during a crash.North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper J.E. Brewer said the new law simply clarifies the state's decades-old helmet requirement."Wearing a helmet has been the law but just wearing a helmet is not enough now," Brewer said. "It has got to meet the DOT standard."Many riders acknowledged helmets can lower their risk for injury, instead casting the issue as a fight for civil rights."Riding a motorcycle is not the safest thing in the world to do," said protest organizer Jan MacKay. "Neither is snow skiing. Skiers watch out, you're next."Raleigh police monitoring the 30 minute rally did not write any tickets for illegal headgear. Several riders said if they are cited they will continue to fight for their rights in court.It was not known whether Governor Mike Easley was present at the mansion during the afternoon protest

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