Helmet Safety Info
The Governor's reasons for vetoing HB2454!!!
JOHN A. KITZHABER, M.D.
Dear Secretary Keisling:
I am returning herewith HB 2454, unsigned and disapproved.
The bill would repeal the motorcycle helmet law for riders 21 years of
age and older. While I respect motorcycle riders' desire to choose
whether to wear helmets, maintaining the current law is clearly in the
best interests of the citizens of Oregon. This is consistent with the
public position I have held on this issue for almost 20 years.
I am vetoing this bill, based not only on my experience as an emergency
room physician, but also because the research clearly demonstrates that
motorcycle helmet laws save lives, prevent injuries, and save public
dollars. Helmeted riders have 28-73% lower death rates than unhelmeted
riders and helmet usage reduces the incidence of severe head injury by
46-85%. States with helmet laws have death rates 20-40% lower than
states without such laws. Helmet usage is 90-98% in states with
mandatory laws, and only about 50% in those without. Unhelmeted riders
have higher medical care costs than helmeted riders in crashes, and the
majority of the costs are paid by the public rather than by the injured
motorcyclist. If our helmet law were to be repealed, Oregon Medical
Assistance Program estimates an increased expenditure of over $6 million
of public funds per biennium to pay for additional health care costs.
In addition, Oregonians showed strong support for mandatory motorcycle
helmets when they overwhelmingly approved the 1988 referendum by a 2 - 1
margin. The measure passed in every county. A recent poll conducted by
an independent research firm has shown that the people of this state
continue to support the helmet law by a wide margin.
I will continue to oppose repealing the motorcycle helmet law based on
my concern for the health of Oregon motorcyclists and my commitment to
the judicious use of public funds. As I have stated in the past, the
only way I would consider signing such a measure into law would be if
those who are advocating freedom of choice for adult riders would also
ensure that those exercising such a freedom also accept the full
economic responsibility for their actions.
John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.
Click here to view a rebuttal to this reasoning.
August 8, 1997
The Honorable Phil Keisling
Secretary of State
136 State Capitol
Salem, OR 97310
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