Ky. lawmaker wants to require children 12 and under to wear bike - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. lawmaker wants to require children 12 and under to wear bike helmets on public streets

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Louisville Democrat Joni Jenkins wants to make helmets mandatory across the state for kids 12 and under on all public roadways, bike paths and rights of way. Louisville Democrat Joni Jenkins wants to make helmets mandatory across the state for kids 12 and under on all public roadways, bike paths and rights of way.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- It may save lives and save money, but is it a personal choice? That’s the debate over a bill that would require your child to wear a helmet while riding a bike.

Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville) the sponsor of the bike helmet bill calls it a common sense idea that will save lives and save money.

In 2010, a bike accident forever changed the lives of T.J. Floyd and his family. His tire clipped the back of his brother's bike.

“And he flipped over the handlebars and hit his head on the concrete,” T.J.’s mother, Heather Floyd, told WDRB.

T.J. was not wearing a helmet.

Doctors at Kosair Children's Hospital saved his life, but he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

“He had to learn to walk again, talk again, eat again, use the bathroom again,” she said.

Now T.J. and his mother, Heather, have come to the Capitol to push for a bill HB254, named T.J's Bill, that would require kids age 12 and under to wear bike helmets.

“It's a nightmare, and it doesn't end,” said Floyd during the Capitol news conference.

In Louisville, helmets are mandatory only for kids in public parks. Statewide, there are no rules.

Jenkins says it's time to change that.

“Well, it's common sense. An $8-$10 bike helmet can save millions of dollars in health care costs,” said Jenkins.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky says bicycle accidents are the fourth leading cause of traumatic brain injury among children.

Doctors say helmets can dramatically reduce that.

“Since the helmet takes the first impact, then it protects the brain, and so these children usually can just get up and walk away with a broken helmet, but their head intact,” said Dr. Zaria Murrell, a pediatric neurosurgeon with the University of Louisville.

Jenkins says she understands the argument that the bill infringes on personal freedom.

“We've changed thinking about smoking, we've changed thinking about seat belts, and booster seats, and car seats. And this is such a natural procession, I think, in that,” said Jenkins.

As for the bill’s namesake, the 13-year-old is heading back to school for the first time in 5 years.

“I miss my friends,” he said.

“I want it to be worth something, and if helping other people, if we have that voice, and they listen, then we want to utilize that for good,” said Heather Floyd.

Similar measures have died at the Capitol in the past. Jenkins admits it's an uphill climb, but says she'll keep pushing for kids like T.J.

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