* * * Nothing scares me more than someone who knows, with certainty, what is best for me * * *
Nobody talking about this issue discourages voluntary helmet use.
We certainly encourage Motorcyclists to wear
whatever equipment they think will help keep them safe on the highway. Amending
Oregon's helmet law will have no effect on Riders who choose to wear their helmets.
Changing the mandatory helmet law does not automatically mean that helmet use will
decline. However, since about half of the Riders in States that do not require
helmet use do not wear them, an intelligent person would want to ask, "why"?
We think that you should ask why too.
"Things to which men must be driven by force, cease to be, thanks to the force, for the common good."
|"The makers of the Constitution conferred,
as against the government,
the Right to be let alone;
the most comprehensive of rights,
and the right most valued
by civilized men."
United States Supreme Court Justice Brandeis
Who do you think knows more about motorcycle safety? Someone who has been riding a motorcycle for over 35 years or someone who has never even been on a motorcycle?
A reasonable person needs to look at the motivations of the people who lobby for and against mandatory helmet laws. The people who want you to keep helmet laws work for the Insurance Industry, the Medical profession and for Government Agencies. These folks have several things in common: First, they are all, every one, paid to promote the mandatory helmet law position. In many cases, getting you to vote for mandatory helmet laws means continued employment, bigger budgets, pleasing Bosses and so on. Perhaps most important though is the fact that none of these helmets-save-lives "Experts" have ever even been on a motorcycle. None of the people promoting mandatory helmet laws really care about the safety and welfare of Motorcyclists. In fact, they will often times make their points by depicting Motorcyclists as irresponsible low-lifes and burdens to the Taxpayer, claims that couldn't be further from the truth. The real agenda behind mandatory helmet laws is that they are tools to use to harass Motorcyclists. ABATE of Oregon currently has an injunction against the Oregon State Police for doing exactly this (harassing Riders who are wearing DOT approved helmets). Mandatory helmet laws are also one step towards the objective of legislating motorcycles off of America's roads, which is what the Insurance Industry, the Medical profession and many Government Bureaucrats want.
In contrast, none of the Motorcyclists who work to repeal mandatory helmet laws are paid for their efforts. Every Motorcyclist who comes down to the Legislature to talk to you gives up a day's pay to do so. The checks we write to support Candidates for elected office come out of our personal checking accounts not out of a Company lobbying fund. We are not paid for our volunteer efforts helping pro-freedom Candidates to get elected. The thousands of hours that we spend every year doing things like providing this information and maintaining this web site are done out of our strong grass roots commitment to freedom and not for personal or financial gain. Prior to the 1987 mandatory helmet law, many of us had little interest in politics. But since our snoozing caused us to lose our freedom, you can be assured that our current Citizen activism is now a permanent state of affairs. We will be here every session, presenting helmet law repeal legislation until the law is history. Count on it.
The data used for this comparison was obtained from the 1994 Motorcycle Statistical Annual, Motorcycle Industry Council, Inc., 1994. The state motorcycle accident statistics were divided between states with a mandatory helmet law and those without. This data displayed below clearly shows that States with mandatory helmet laws have a higher accident rate and a higher fatality rate than States that do not require helmet use.
The only variable used in this comparison is a mandatory helmet law. The results show that accident and fatality rates are higher overall in states with mandatory helmet laws. The total number of accidents and fatalities are also higher in these same states
Mandatory helmet law states account for sixty-one percent (61%) of total motorcycle registrations. They account for sixty-four percent (64%) of the accidents and sixty-five percent (65%) of the fatalities
|"Liberty has never come from
Liberty has always come from the subjects of government.
The history of liberty is the history of resistance."
The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) claims that Motorcyclists are against mandatory helmet laws because helmets muss up our hair...or because Motorcyclists don't look "cool" with helmets on. What nonsense!
Does anyone really believe that people disrupt their lives, spending 20 or 30 years of their life and a lot of money fighting mandatory helmet laws for these kinds of reasons? Motorcycling can be dangerous. No rational person is going to do anything to increase their likelihood of injury while riding a motorcycle or while doing anything else, for that matter. Why then is there so much resistance to mandatory helmet laws by the people who are being commanded by Government to wear them?
A fact well known to anyone who rides a motorcycle is that helmets cause accidents and helmets kill Riders.
I have long since lost count of all of the near misses I have had when I couldn't see or hear the car that was about to violate my right of way. Anyone who tells you that motorcycle helmets don't adversely effect your ability to operate a motorcycle has never tried to ride a motorcycle while wearing one. Take this simple test: go to your local motorcycle shop and put on a full face helmet. Lower the facemask, as required by law, and walk around the showroom for 30 seconds and you'll start to see what we mean. Now imagine trying to operate a motorcycle in heavy traffic, in 90 degree heat or in the pouring rain and we think you'll start to get the picture.
Forget about statistics for a second. Common sense says that wearing a helmet makes it orders of magnitude more difficult to operate a motorcycle.
We'll tell you some horror stories about friends who have had their necks broken by the helmets that they were forced to wear another time. Suffice it to say that I am not looking forward to spending what's left of my life in a wheelchair as a result of some Bureaucrat's desire to "save my life".
The best way to avoid being hurt on a motorcycle is to not hit anything!
Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents. In fact, wearing a helmet increases the likelihood of being in an accident substantially as mentioned and proven above.
According to ODOT statistics, 50% of motorcycle fatalities in Oregon during 1998 involved alcohol. Over 40% of 1998 motorcycle fatalities in Oregon involved Riders who were not endorsed to operate a motorcycle. This is consistent with what experienced Motorcyclists have known for decades:
Training, experience and sober riding is what keeps you alive on a motorcycle.
This is why ABATE of Oregon created and periodically increases funding for Team Oregon. If you never have an accident, you will never be in jeopardy of being killed on a motorcycle. Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents but often are a factor into the cause of the accident.
In the late Fall of 1998, a retired Lake Oswego Motor Officer was killed on his motorcycle when he didn't see the pickup truck, driven by a Teenager that pulled in front of him, violating his right-of-way. Few Motorcyclists are as well trained and as skilled as Police Motor Officers. This accident and fatality almost certainly could have been avoided had the Officer not had his vision and hearing restricted by the helmet that he was forced to wear.
The Government's own data shows that helmet use does not figure significantly in the survivability of a motorcycle accident
Government Bureaucrats would have you believe that Motorcyclists will be hanging from trees at every intersection and that medical costs to care for injured Riders will skyrocket as soon as mandatory helmet laws are repealed. This simply is not so. Prior to 1987, when the mandatory helmet law was instituted in Oregon, the fatality to accident rate in Oregon was about 3 fatalities per 100 accidents. The fatality to accident ratio went up sharply thereafter and is still significantly higher than what it was (6 fatalities per 100 accidents) before the mandatory helmet law went into effect. This fact is supported by the Fatal Accident Research Study (FARS), a compilation of data collected from Police Officers investigating actual accidents.
When the Government talks about "lives saved" because of mandatory helmet laws, they are taking credit for the downward trend in motorcycle fatalities Worldwide that are resulting from improved motorcycle design, better protective clothing, improved training and licensing standards and for the decreasing social tolerance for driving impaired. The Government conveniently neglects to point out that States that do not require helmet use are also enjoying comparable reduced injury and fatality rates.
The Government's own data shows that helmet use increases, not decreases the cost to treat injured Riders
When you see Government "statistics" that talk about lives/dollars saved, you will note that the figures are given as "estimates" and as percentages. This is because the Government likes to manipulate data to "prove" preconceived conclusions. The Government will show fatality increases as a percentage of registered vehicles or as some other ratios that mislead the Reader into thinking that helmet laws are being effective. Measuring fatalities as a ratio of anything other than accidents is meaningless since no one has ever been killed by a motorcycle that was parked in the garage all Summer. Note that the information the Legislature receives from the Oregon Health Department measures fatalities per registered motorcycles. The Oregon Health Department has adamantly refused to stop providing this erroneous and misleading information to Oregon's Law Makers because the numbers that are created using this formula support the position that they want to prove. Looking at pertinent, relevant data shows that mandatory helmet laws do not save lives or money.
The NHTSA 1996 report to Congress shows that it is more expensive to treat a Rider who was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash than it is to treat a Rider who wasn't. The Government's own data also shows that it costs far more to treat a Rider who is being treated with public funds as compared to a Rider who is using private insurance. This obviously has nothing at all to do with Motorcyclists and helmet laws.
This is a problem of publicly funded medical payments being poorly regulated and monitored.
Every accident must be considered individually. Neither the Government nor anyone else has a crystal ball that can predict what might have happened under different circumstances. That fact is that helmet use has never figured significantly into the survivability of a motorcycle accident. The Governments' own data proves this.
The Insurance Industry doesn't want helmets on our heads, they want our butts on a bus!
Mandatory helmet laws result in tens of thousands of motorcycles being taken off the road and many less miles being driven on those still registered, a fact that the Insurance Companies love! In Oregon, motorcycle registrations went from over 90,000 before the mandatory helmet law to 60,000 shortly after the law went into effect. In California, registrations went from 700,000 to 400,000! It is certainly true that there will be less motorcycle accidents if there are half as many motorcycles on the road, but it is not the helmet's questionable safety benefits that are responsible for this fatality decline.
Motorcycle use saves gasoline, reduces smog and reduces traffic congestion. Government should not be working to add more cars to the highway, yet this is exactly what happens when mandatory helmet laws are created.
Pursuing happiness as a member of a free society involves risks. Having the freedom to make these kinds of choices is a good thing. Being denied your rights to this freedom is a bad thing. A very bad thing.
The claim that mandatory helmet use is not a freedom issue because "Society" bears the cost of injured Motorcyclists is an argument that could be applied to just about any activity one might want to pursue. This is the kind of logic that Communist Countries use to enslave their Citizens.
In fact, 3 times more Pedestrians die in America (a large percentage involve head injuries) than die in motorcycle accidents. I don't see Government promoting mandatory helmet use for Pedestrians although I have no doubt that they will get around to it eventually. As you are probably aware, there is a move afoot to force Skiers to wear helmets based on a tiny, yet high profile number of accidents and fatalities encountered in that sport. To put this in a context that everyone can relate to: the majority of automobile fatalities involve head injuries. Interestingly, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle (car or truck) in Oregon while wearing a motorcycle helmet.
Using NHTSA's own figures, tens of thousands of lives would be saved each year if Motorists were forced by the Government to wear helmets. Is a mandatory helmet law for all Motorists and automobile passengers legislation that you would vote for?
The U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does not guarantee or promote the pursuit of these things provided that they are performed under Government mandated safety constraints. There is nothing in the Constitution saying that it is Government's job to force Citizens to adhere to safety edicts against their will. In fact, the Constitution is pretty clear that our Founding Fathers expected Government to refrain from interfering with our personal liberties.
Almost every activity in life involves risk. And what a boring life it would be if we all walked around with helmets, safety shoes and a Michelin Man style outer wrapping. Forcing Adult Americans to wear a piece of so-called "safety" equipment against their will is anti-American and is certainly not the kind of role that our founding Fathers had in mind for Government when the United States was created.
A little over 1,900 people are killed in motorcycle accidents in America each year. This is about a third of the number of Americans who die each year as a result of toxic substances in the food supply.
One is almost more likely to die from being hit by lightning or by drowning in their bathtub than they are by being involved in a motorcycle accident. Yet the Government (State and Federal) spends Millions in Taxpayer money every year to force Motorcyclists to wear helmets! Why are Motorcyclists being singled out for this aggressive, sustained, "Big Brother knows best" use of Taxpayer money when 500,000 Americans die each year from causes directly attributable to cigarette smoking? Nearly the same number of Americans die from heart problems that are directly caused by an improper and unhealthy diet.
If the idea of a prohibition against hamburgers and french fries is abhorrent to you, then imagine how Motorcyclists feel about mandatory helmet laws!
In fact, due to the increased focus on training, testing, social pressures to ride sober, improved motorcycle designs and so forth, the fatality rate for Motorcyclists has been steadily declining. This, in spite of the fact that several States each year repeal their mandatory helmet laws.
Every year, riding a motorcycle becomes a little safer.... no thanks at all to mandatory helmet laws!
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