An Oregonian Editorial
The following editorial was written by Bob Caldwell, 221-8197, of the Oregonian Staff. Mr. Caldwell quotes "information" that was provided by Grant Higginson, 731-4399, Oregon State Health Officer. Both Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Higginson have ignored requests for the source(s) of these "facts". Refer to the letter I sent to these folks and Elinor Hall, 731-4000, Administrator, Oregon Health Services and Gary Weeks, 945-5944, Director, Oregon Human Resources. Presumably, these are the same State provided "facts" that have been given to Oregon Law Makers as they consider the fate of HB2454. One has to wonder how reliable and how scientific this "data" is, when everyone connected with this "study" has refused to comment on it.
Reprinted from Washington Country ABATE chapter newsletter, March, 1997
"Oregon House poised to end safety requirement. Vote to overturn voter-approved motorcycle helmet law."
"On Monday, the Oregon House of Representatives will vote again on a bill to end the
State requirement that all Motorcyclists wear protective helmets. Incredibly, the bill
is likely to pass. Cyclists have opposed the helmet law since voters approved it by a
huge margin in 1988 and have pressured Legislators to repeal it in every session since
then. Until now, Legislators had been wise enough to resist. Opponents of the helmet
law see it as a question of personal freedom, much as opponents of seat belts once saw
laws requiring their use as restrictions on personal freedom. But some matters of
personal choice have such a huge impact on everybody else that restricting them is
justified. So it is with motorcycle helmets. Dr. Grant Higginson, the state health
officer pointed out in a recent letter that the helmet law saves Oregonians $20 million
annually. The reason of course is that skulls surrounded by helmets are less easily
broken than those that are not. The $20 million comes from lower hospitalization costs,
fewer days of lost work and fewer subsidies to families of motorcycle accident victims.
National Studies show that helmets are effective in preventing deaths and brain injuries.
In 1987 in Oregon, the year before the voters enacted the helmet law, there were 74
motorcycle accident deaths. By 1994, the number had dropped to 22. Higginson and others
attribute this to the helmet law. "If the Oregon helmet law is repealed," Higginson
said "Oregonians who have health insurance will end up paying higher insurance premiums
as injuries increase." A Washington state study determined that taxpayers there spent
between $1.6 million and $3.3 million a year to care for injured, helmetless bikers and
their families. The new bill, HB2454 would remove the requirement that adults wear
helmets. It would keep the requirement for people under age 18. It failed Friday in
a 30-26 vote in favor. That result left the bill one vote short of a majority in the
House. When it is reconsidered on Monday, it's supporters think it will pass. That
would be a real, expensive shame. If cyclists could ride bareheaded and not affect
the rest of us, we'd be all for them. But that isn't the case. We know that. The voters
know that. And Oregon Legislature should know that too.
END OF EDITORIAL
Easyrider responds in a letter to the Editor:
ATTN: Mr. Bob CaldwellHi Bob, I maintain an Internet homepage at http://www.europa.com/~frankie/laws.htm
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