Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) announced Tuesday that a bill allowing adult users of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs) on private land to decide for themselves whether the use of a helmet is appropriate passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
“This commonsense bill will restore a bit of personal accountability and freedom to individuals and I am pleased that the Committee was willing to support this effort,” Olsen said. “In an age when government has become far-reaching and overly-burdensome, it is imperative that we take action to halt nanny government policies that make no sense.”
The bill, AB 1835, would exempt an operator or passenger of an ROV from being required to wear a safety helmet based on four main factors: the person is 18 years or older, the recreational off-highway vehicle has been equipped with a rollbar by the manufacturer, the person is seated in a seat that has been installed by the manufacturer, and the person is wearing a seat belt.
Current law prohibits the use of ROVs without a helmet, under a vehicle code that categorizes and describes the vehicles as similar to motorcycles and motorized bicycles. However, as Olsen points out, ROVs are small vehicles more similar to golf carts, as they come with low centers of gravity, shoulder harnesses, anti-roll bars and seat belts.
Olsen stresses that “no data or studies have shown ROV drivers to be any less safe without a helmet.” She believes that people should be allowed to determine for themselves when a helmet is needed for their driving style and conditions – not the state.
“While I agree that it is appropriate for government to protect users of ROVs by ensuring certain safety standards are met in the design of the vehicle – the same that is done with a golf cart or car – it is inappropriate for government to legislate on personal freedoms in the false name of safety, especially on a person’s own, private land,” said Olsen.
AB 1835 passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on a 10 to 0 vote and will be heard on the Senate Floor in the coming weeks.