Following fatal crash involving teen, lawmaker calls for stricte - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Following fatal crash involving teen, lawmaker calls for stricter helmet law for moped riders

Hunter Ortego, 17, was killed when the moped he was driving hit a pick-up truck in Aina Haina. One lawmaker says in the wake of the crash, she's proposing stricter helmet laws for moped riders. Hunter Ortego, 17, was killed when the moped he was driving hit a pick-up truck in Aina Haina. One lawmaker says in the wake of the crash, she's proposing stricter helmet laws for moped riders.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Hawaii lawmaker is calling for a stricter moped helmet law after a 17-year-old was killed in a moped crash in Aina Haina.

The victim, identified as Hunter Ortego, was home-schooled by his father and loved riding mopeds. On Wednesday, he hit a pick-up truck while traveling on Kalanianaole Highway in Aina Haina.

"The young boy should have been wearing a helmet," said state Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

Police said Ortego is the second person to be killed in a moped crash on Oahu this year, and the 12th since 2013.

Accident records show only one of the victims was wearing a helmet.

State law mandates that moped riders under 18 wear helmets. But many teenage riders ignore the law, and now Inouye says she'll introduce legislation to expand the helmet requirements.

"I am looking at extending the age level so anyone who's on a moped must wear a helmet," she said.

Longtime moped dealer George Burmeister said amending the moped law will meet opposition.

He offers discounts for helmets with every moped sold. But many customers decline the offer, saying wearing a helmet is uncomfortable or restricts their vision.

"I usually tell people even if you see something coming at you or if you see it happening you're still not protected against it. So a helmet is preventive in that sense," he said.

Inouye said moped riders should also wear other safety gear, like jackets, long pants and appropriate shoes. "If they want to get on our highways then it's important that they dress accordingly," she said.

Moped riders can be as young as 15. All a rider needs is a valid driver's license. Insurance isn't required. 

Burmeister wears a helmet when he rides his moped. "There's so much statistics -- helmets being better. Sometimes there's statistics saying it's not," he said. "I myself would say I would wear a helmet to be safe."

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