Why should Motorcyclists be forced to wear helmets?
Summary: I get a lot of
E-mail and Visitors to this site who would love nothing better than to force
every Motorcyclist on Planet Earth to wear a helmet. I guess everyone
is entitled to their opinion but I have to say that this "Pro mandatory
helmet laws" crowd is a pretty clueless lot. They make a lot of statements
that they claim are facts but cannot offer even a shred of evidence to
back up their claims.
Most pro helmet law types have never even been on a motorcycle and one gets the impression while listening to them that they don't even like motorcycles or Motorcyclists very much.
This page will look at who these people really are and what they stand for. Data cited here was provided by the USDOT, NHTSA, ODOT and The National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
It should be noted that a large number of Motorcyclist fatalities Nationally occurred while the Biker was speeding. Nationally, about 50% of Motorcyclist fatal crashes involved alcohol (although records are not kept regarding whether it was the Biker or the Motorist who was drinking). Here in Oregon, about 50% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved Riders who were not licensed to operate a motorccyle. According to the USDOT, that number is 15% Nationally. The bottom line here, at least in my opinion, is that riding a motorcycle on America's highways is certainly a risky proposition. Motorcycles are not for stupid people and Darwin will quickly catch up with stupid or foolhardy people who ride them. IMO, mandatory helmet laws will not prevent stupid people from killing themselves.
The USDOT and most Government Agencies acknowledge that motorcycle helmets offer no protection for bodily injuries to areas other than the head. It is also a fact that most motorcycle fatalities do not occur because of head injuries. While the Government "estimates" that "lives would have been saved if the Rider was wearing a helmet", there is not one iota of evidence to support that claim. Furthermore, even the Government acknowledges that helmets only offer protection in slow speed (less than 30 MPH) crashes. This fact is a source of misinformation even among experienced riders who say that they wear helmets when riding on the Interstate but do not wear one when riding around Town.
An interesting side note: Almost half (45 percent) of all motorcyclist fatalities in 2000 resulted from crashes in seven states: 276 in California, 259 in Florida, 227 in Texas, 149 in Pennsylvania, 126 in Illinois, 126 in Ohio, and 119 in New York. In 2000, all of these States except for Ohio and Illinois required helmet use. And Nationally, 55% of Riders killed in motorcycle crashes were wearing helmets. The fact here, in case you don't get it, is that Government has been very successful at forcing helmets on our heads and for the most part, this meddling has had no beneficial effect.
Cagers: The vast majority of people who are behind efforts to force helmets on Rider's heads do not know anything about motorcycles. It is very rare to find an experienced Motorcyclist working for mandatory helmet laws and the few that do are mostly Ringers or Posers. There are certainly Motorcyclists who prefer to wear helmets and who feel safer having one on while they are riding and that's absolutely fine with me. I am not anti helmet. I am anti mandatory helmet law. I am vehemently against having a bunch of people who know nothing about the issues forcing me to wear a helmet or any other piece of so-called "safety equipment". If Cagers are really so concerned with the health and well being of us greasy Bikers, they might consider getting their head out of their ass while they are driving instead of forcing me to have a helmet on when they run me over. 2/3 of all Motorcyclist fatalities in accidents where a car was involved occur because the Motorist violated the Biker's right of way. Want to save lives? Shut off your cell phone, put on your makeup before you leave home and actually pay attention to what you are doing while you're driving!
Safetycrats: Safetycrats make two basic claims to support mandatory helmet laws. Their hidden message is that Motorcyclists are too stupid to figure it out for ourselves so we need to be forced to do so. This arrogance of forcing your will on the other guy permeates the whole pro mandatory helmet law membership. Safetycrats claim that mandatory helmet laws save lives even though 35 years of misrepresenting the data and in some cases outright lying has never proven this. Since the facts do not support Safetycrat assertions, a more recent strategy is to claim that there is a "social burden" when Motorcyclists ride without helmets. This extremely vague and totally untrue position has gotten a fair amount of traction by the non-riding public who tend to believe whatever Government tells them. Government insinuates (but rarely comes right out and says) that Motorcyclists are riding around without insurance, a claim that is totally untrue. There is also the claim that "Society" is somehow picking up the tab for Motorcyclists who can't/won't pay their medical bills. The Oregon Health Department made this claim in their financial impact "report" to the Legislature when helmet law repeal was being cosidered. The OHD claimed that it would cost the State $2 Million if the helmet law was repealed. This turned out to be a totally bogus estimate that was based on using California estimates and modifying them per Oregon motorcycle ridership. When challenged by BikePAC of Oregon, the Oregon Health Dept. was unable to provide the name of a single Mortorcyclist who ever receievd Taxpayer money for medical treatment. ABATE of Oregon did it's own independent reseach and was unable to find a single hospital who had ever treated a Motorcyclist using tax dollars. One thing I've learned over the years is that Government Agencies and Bureaucrats are not shy about lying when it comes to protecting their budgets.
The Insurance Industry: You would be hard pressed to find a bigger group of scumbags than the Insurance Industry. Insurance companies don't want to have to deal with motorcycles at all. They don't want helmets on our heads, they want our asses in busses. The Insurance companies routinely claim that rates will skyrocket if helmet laws are repealed. But I don't recall getting a premium reduction when the helmet law was passed. Anyone who would ever believe Insurance Industy statements about anything should ask me about a hardly used bridge that I happen to have for sale.
Helmet laws are a solution in search of a problem: In Oregon,
somewhere between 20-30 Motorcyclsist die on the State's highways each year.
Nationally, the numbers run between 2,000 and 3,000 depending on the
weather, how much money people have in their pockets and so on. Using
the Governments' own numbers, all but a few hundred of these Riders were
wearing helmets or otherwise would have died even if they were wearing a
suit of armor when they crashed. There are many, way more serious health
problems for the Government to deal with than this.
Government's justification for it's 35 year assault on our rights and freedoms is that helmet laws "save lives". Well, IMO, forcing people to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and wide brimmed hats would save way more lives by virtually eliminating melamona, a 100% preventable skin cancer. According to the CDC, 7,000 - 8,000 Americans die from melanoma with 42,000 new cases being reported each year. This is a huge medical problem and "social burden" issue that could be completely solved with the institution of a Federal clothing ordinance. Think this will ever happen? Government wouldn't have the balls. People wouldn't put up with that kind of shit for 10 seconds. But, because Bikers are a small minority, we make easy targets. And then there's tobacco use, alcohol, fatty foods and lots of other health issues that result in tens of thousands and in some cases hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. Outlawing cigarettes, alcohol and fatty foods would save millions of lives a year. Think it will ever happen?
Government, Safetycrats, Socilaists and left wing Liberals don't give a shit about the safety, health and well being of Motorcyclsist. They just don't like motorcyclists of the freedom loving lifesyle we represent.