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CYCLE HELMET BILL VETOED BY GOVERNOR 2ND YEAR IN ROW

Times Staff Writer

For the second year in a row, Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed legislation Friday that would have required all motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding on a public street or highway.

In a brief veto message, the Republican governor said he rejected the measure because it would have required “all motorcycle riders to wear helmets under all conditions on all roads.”

As an alternative, Deukmejian urged the Legislature to pass a bill that would require any rider under the age of 21 to wear a helmet, require all motorcyclists to participate in driver training programs and toughen motorcycle driver licensing standards.

The normally outspoken Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Carson), author of the bill, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. But Floyd aides charged that the governor’s veto would lead to the unnecessary death of thousands of motorcyclists.

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‘Many Deaths’

“The governor has remained consistently hard-headed,” one assistant to the assemblyman said. “Unfortunately, there are going to be many deaths and serious injuries that could have been averted if the bill had been signed into law.”

Insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, law enforcement officials and other backers of the legislation have attempted since the mid-1960s to enact a mandatory helmet bill in California. But opposition from motorcycle groups, such as the Hells Angels--as well as conservative Republican cyclists--have helped stymie such efforts.

Last year, amid a storm of controversy, the Legislature approved a mandatory helmet bill for the first time. But the governor stunned the measure’s supporters by promptly vetoing the legislation. The strait-laced Deukmejian noted at the time that if he were to ride a motorcycle, he would certainly wear a helmet, but that he was not prepared to require all cyclists to do the same.

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This year, with the measure facing a near-certain veto, opponents of the measure raised little opposition, and the bill moved quickly and quietly through the Legislature, winning final passage from the Assembly last week on a 41-20 vote.


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