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Helmet Laws Debated As Motorcycle Deaths Go Up

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

John Shumway John Shumway
John Shumway joined KDKA-TV in October 1988 as a General Assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Anyone who’s ever climbed on a motorcycle talks about the feeling of freedom, especially without a helmet.

“I can see and hear things coming around me better,” says Domenico Barbieri.

Which is exactly what Barbieri believed until August 28, 2008 when he was turning onto Route 8.

“ … that was it,” he said. “It all turns into a blur.”

Gravel sent Barbieri cycle down and he lost a lot of skin in the process including on his face.

“I am — I definitely had someone watching over me that day keeping me alive,” he said.

“The head wasn’t meant to hit the concrete at 55 miles an hour,” says Allegheny General Neurosurgeon Jack Wilberger.

In just the last year, 210 motorcyclists have died – a 5 percent increase over 2011.

“Many of these riders are young men with children and all of that is destroyed,” Wilberger said.

The numbers are up 9 percent across the country prompting calls for mandatory helmet use across the U.S.

“The helmet does not save a motorcyclist,” says Lenny Young with ABATE. “It’s staying out of a crash in the first place that’s what’s going to save us.”

Young and the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Towards Education, says the increased stats are logical.

“It’s common sense you have more motorcyclist on the road you are going to have more crashes,” Young said.

Young says ABATE has nothing against helmets.

“It’s not about the helmet, it’s about the choice,” he said.

Every legislative session, Rep. Dan Frankel has tried to reintroduce the helmet law and in light of the new information about fatalities. KDKA’s John Shumway contacted his office today to see if he’d try again this year.

He says he’s studying the information, but hasn’t decided whether to try again.

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