Ohio may allow motorcyclists to wear earplugs

Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 4:14 PM
By Laura A. Bischoff - Columbus Bureau

Motorcyclists would be allowed to wear earplugs and ODOT would be required to add rumble strips on two-lane highways, if two bills approved by the Ohio House on Thursday make it into state law.

Both bills still need to win approval from the Ohio Senate and signature by Gov. Mike DeWine.

Under current law, motorcyclist are prohibited from wearing earplugs or headphones for hearing protection while riding. State Rep. Riordan McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, said that motorcycle riders experience the equivalent of 80 to 105 decibels while driving at highway speeds caused by win noise alone.

Riders wearing earplugs or headphones will still be able to hear traffic, sirens or passengers, he said.

House Bill 129, which passed on a 94-0 vote, would not allow riders to wear earbuds for listening to music.

A similar bill introduced last legislative session cleared the House but died in the Senate.

Related: Motorcyclists could wear earplugs under bill passed in Ohio House

Ohio is among 31 states that do not require adult motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Some helmets have built-in hearing protection. Passengers under 18 are required to wear helmets.

House Bill 51, which was approved on a 95-0 vote, would require the Ohio Department of Transportation to install center line rumble strips on roads with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or faster. The mandate would apply to new construction or when a road is undergoing major construction or repaving.

Rumble strips alert drivers that they are drifting.

“Rumble strips reduce the likelihood of a crash and diminish the severity of consequences in instances when a crash does occur,” according to testimony in favor of the bill by the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs.

State Rep. Tim Ginter, R-Salem, sponsor of the bill, testified that Ohio Department of Public Safety data show that in 2018 1,385 collisions on undivided U.S. and state routes were the result of vehicles crossing the center line. Seventy-eight of those crashes were fatal.