HomeAmericasPoliticsCA Bill Allowing Sikhs To Ride Without Bike Helmets Passes In State Senate

CA Bill Allowing Sikhs To Ride Without Bike Helmets Passes In State Senate

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CA Bill Allowing Sikhs To Ride Without Bike Helmets Passes In State Senate

SACRAMENTO, CA (IANS) – Senators in California voted in favor of a bill that exempts Sikhs from wearing a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle.

Bill 847, authored by Senator Brian Dahle cleared the State Senate with a 21-8 vote margin, and will now move to the Assembly.

“Freedom of religion is a core foundation of this country. We, as Americans, have the right to freely express our religion and I believe that right should equally extend to everyone. Any law that limits the ability to express one’s religion, goes against what this country is all about,” Dahle said in a statement after presenting the bill on the Senate floor.

“Exempting those who wear turbans or patkas from wearing helmets is a simple way to ensure that everyone’s religious freedoms are protected,” he added.

According to 2021 American Community Survey estimates, 211,000 Sikhs live in California, which is nearly half of all Sikhs living in the US.

The State Senate was told that as of now, no helmet exists in the market that will accommodate a turban or a patka, but according to members of the Sikh community, a turban is a good enough protection.

Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C. have a universal helmet law for all riders. 29 states require helmets for specified riders, generally riders under a certain age (usually 18 or 21).

Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no motorcycle helmet laws.

“Although other countries and our own military make accommodations for Sikhs’ deep beliefs, out of the US states that require helmets, none has exemptions for Sikhs or any other group based on religious practice,” a statement from Dahle’s office read.

This question of helmets for Sikhs has also been debated and considered in other countries, like Canada and the UK.

In Canada, Sikhs are exempt from motorcycle helmet laws in several provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Among the supporters of the bill were the Legendary Sikh Riders, the Sikh Legends of America, and the Sikh Saints Motorcycle Club.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 5,500 motorcyclists died in 2020, and more than 180,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries.

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  • Wearing a helmet is a wise safety precaution for all young and old who ride or drive a vehicle that does not cover the person with a safe metal enclosure like a car, just like how wearing a seat belt in a car, to protect the person in case of an accident. Many years ago, I was protected from head injury due to a helmet I was wearingm when I fell down from a bicycle when its front wheel went into a pothole on the road. Head injuries can lead to brain damage, paralysis, or death. Whenever I am walking and see someone without a helmet riding a bicycle I advise them to wear a helmet. Sometimes I see parents with children wearing helmets but they themselves are without helmets, so I ask them what happens if they get hurt, who will take care of the children ?
    God has given us ability to think and choose the right action, so we should use it based on science and accident statistics.

    June 5, 2023
  • The religion only says to have long hair. The turban is just something that people wear. My grandfather and his generation were the last ones to wear it daily.

    Sikhs need to get smarter. They can wear a helmet over their hair just like women do.

    June 5, 2023
  • Are there any stats about accidents involving Sikhs and mortality?

    June 5, 2023
  • I wonder why there should be a requirement for wearing a helmet. Let people ride without helmet and those who get involved in an accident or incur injury should not he the responsibility of state.

    June 5, 2023
  • Bill is sure to protect the turban, but will it protect their head?

    June 16, 2023

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