T Nation

Helmet Laws


#1

My roommate is one of these "look to government for everything" kind of guys. Very much the typical "liberal democrat." I, on the other hand, am the opposite. I believe in government hands off and personal freedoms.

We got to arguing about helmet laws last night. He said that he worked on a project for his public policy class and said that they concluded that helmet laws should be enforced. His main claim is that 40% of motorcycle accidents require medical assistance paid by the government, averaging to be $150 per motorcycle rider/yr. He also said that there is a loss to society (one less person to work) and "what about the kids of the person."

It is my contention that it should be up to the rider. As for the cost, I compared it to rock climbing (his favorite activity) or another extreme sport which imposes the risk of loss on society, yet we do not ban those activities. If a person wants to risk their head, then it should be their option.

So, what does everyone think about that? Has anyone heard any other figures as far as societal cost? He also claimed that 81% of non-riders and 50% of riders think there should be such a ban, do you think these figures are accurate?


#2

Personally I think you're pretty stupid to ride without a helmet. I ride a motorcycle and it doesn't matter how good you are sometimes there's nothing you can do to avoid the accident.

That having been said I think it should be entirely up to the individual, just think of it as survival of the fittest.

STU


#3

I don't believe in helmet laws or seatbelt laws for adults even though I use both. It should be your choice. I do think you should have insurance to cover the risk of injury so I don't have to pay for your split coconut.


#4

i think they are total bullshit! maybe there should be a helmet law for those under 18. but if you are an adult and dont mind bouncing your dome off the pavement thats your fucking perogative!


#5

As long as no government money is spent to put the dumbass back together again, I think it should be his choice.


#6

I would never leave the house on my bicycle without my helmet on, and I'd never drive away without my seatbelt buckled. Driving without a seatbelt or riding without a helmet are the two stupidest things a person can do. Should there be a law? Fuck no! If you're that fucking stupid, I really don't give a shit what happens to you. Kind of a Darwin thing.

But if you choose not to wear a belt or helmet AND to not carry insurance, then fuck you.

Instead of helmet and seatbelt laws, the law should state that a person not wearing either/or who is uninsured has consented to an implied DNR and has also agreed to be an organ donor.

People who refuse or neglect to properly restrain or protect their children should simply be shot without question or warning.


#7

you wear a helmet to ride your bicycle???


#8

I do. I didn't used to but one day I was at some manager training in the Navy and one of my partners showed up late. He'd been dealing with the death of one the guys he supervised. He said it was a bike crash. I said, "Motorcycle?". He replied, "No bicycle, the kind you pedal". The guy was doing 25 MPH and got forced off the road by a driver in a car and hit a power pole. He died of a head injury.

I go down some hills around here that get you going well over 35 MPH. A lot of things can happen and I'd rather not be a head injury victim if I can do something to reduce the odds.

I wear a helmet when I ski now too. I've been skiing since 1985 with only some thumb injuries, bruises, and one shattered lower leg but I ski faster now than I ever did and I ski trees and narrow chutes in the rock bands. Again, if you look at the stats and talk to the guys that scrape the bodies up it's head injuries that cause the most fatalities.

I wear a helmet some of the time when I ride my horse too. If I'm doing any work at speed I do. On trail rides I don't. My daughter would have died at age 12 if she hadn't had her helmet on when she crashed on her horse.

It's just cheap insurance.


#9

When will the government stop interfereing in peoples lives?

Helmet laws, seat belt laws and now New York state has not only banned the use of hand held cell phones while driving, (you can still eat and drink while driving), but also banned smoking in all public places, inclucing, of all places, bars!

Thomas Paine: "A government is best which governs least."


#10

I don't mind the hand-held cell phone ban while driving. Those people always piss me off. They are going to end up running over someone else. That's different than some guy splattering his brain all over the highway because he didn't have a helmet on.


#11

i dont want to change the topic... but. banning use of cell phones. i want to agree with... because those people will be less focused on driving, and they endanger the drivers around them. I drive around all the time and theres always someone thats swerving around and hitting the brakes and driving very bad and when I pass them they are on the phone.

I do believe that some laws do restrict alot of people, but when a law is used for the safety of the other people, I think it is good.

in regard to helmets. I guess it is like the government trying to parent the people by telling them to wear their helmets. Especially say, children who dont. They dont know any better. And things adults tell them to do, but they say thats stupid. Though sometimes the adults are wrong.

So i guess if they get hurt, its their fault, but if the government has to pay, then yes put your helment on.


#12

You use a seatbelt when you drive your car???

Only a total fucking idiot wouldn't. Helmet use reduces serious head injuries in bicycle crashes by over 85%.

Evenutually when daddy takes your training wheels off, you'll realize that bikes go fast, and that you're allowed to ride off the sidewalk, too.

Why anyone wouldn't is totally beyond me.

I don't wear a helmet horseback, but I probably should. I don't do anything beyond a trot and don't rope at all. I make my 10yo son wear one while he's learning to rope, though. For the same reason I make him buckle his seatbelt in the truck and wear his helmet on his bike.


#13

The problem is that if you look at studies of causes of actual accidents, versus just pissing people off, cell phone use is behind eating, adjusting the radio, and talking to passengers as a contributing factor. So it's one more law based on appearances rather than facts.


#14

I consider myself a small "L" libertarian and believe the less government the better. That also means less taxes, and I believe the government has a duty to find ways to reduce spending and in turn, reduce taxes. However, in this case - Doogie nailed the problem. The problem isn't dying - to be totally cold about it, a guy who doesn't wear a helmet who dies in an accident has actually done a service to society. If his wife was smart, she would have taken out life insurance on the guy, so that even if the family no longer had his income, the life insurance should replace that. Yes, the kids end up not having a father, but you legislating good family practices gets into that area where government has no business.

The problem is the moron who suffers a serious head injury and lives. Medical insurance, if he has any, will cover the initial hospital stay. The problem is, if the guy becomes a drooling idiot with an IQ of like 25, he will need some type of long-term care, most likely a nursing home. Medical insurance DOES NOT pay for long-term care. And therein lies the problem. Here in Colorado, a cheap nursing home will run around $3,000 a month - and we're talking a real shithole that I wouldn't even put my dog into. Most families can't afford that. So this guy will end up on the public dole.

I don't consider helmet laws as the government being a nanny and saying "now wear your helmet because it's good for you." I consider it as government saving taxpayers' money. Yeah, it infringes on personal rights. But your rights end where my nose begins. If you want to take a risk and ride without a helmet, go ahead, but if you do, you have no right to come and ask for my tax money to pay for your care if you get into a serious accident. Problem is, a law that prohibited a non-helmet wearer from receiving public health benefits if he suffered an injury would never pass. So the alternative is to wear a helmet and reduce the risk of a serious injury.


#15

SteelyEyes,

What studies are those? I'd really like to read them. I find it hard to believe that people cause a crash and then admit, "Yeah, I was eating and got distracted" or "Yeah, I was talking to my mom on the phone and ran a redlight".


#16

It's assinine to portray "liberal Democrats" as being "look to government for everything" kind of guys who are less interested in "personal freedom" than you are. But that's a different topic.

As a rider once said to me, "First they'll make us all wear helmets, next they'll make us all wear orange jumpsuits".

It should be a personal choice, however it is probably a dumb choice. Even the best riders are at tremendous risk, because of the lack of driving skills, lack of awareness, or lack of respect for anyone who is riding a smaller vehicle (including bicycles). You can be the best rider in the world, all you need is some bozo to run a stop sign and you're toast.

Bike defensively...


#17

wow! your really sensitive about your helmet.


#18

Cell phone use in a vehicle in New York state is perfectly legal if you have a "hands free" device. This means that some pandering law maker thought that the act of actually holding the phone in one hand caused accidents. When in fact driving with one hand probably has less to do with the accident than driver inattention due to the fact that they are distracted by the act of communicating!

A driver in New York can barrel down the road talking on his cell phone to his girl friend about their hot date, or his aunt betsy about those tasty cookies she baked, as long as it is on a hands free unit!

Like helmet laws and smoking bans, it's a bad law!

It can absolutely be proven that talking to even one other person either by phone, or who is inside your vehicle raises your chances of having an accident. Should we now ban having passengers in the car, or just fine drivers who happen to be talking to a passenger?

We do need to ban some things. For starters lets ban politicians who want to pass these asinine laws!


#19

I don't think I'm particularly sensitive about it, but I'm pretty sure I'd be dead or severly crippled without it.

A couple years ago I split my $60 Bell helmet in two on a rock when I endo'd my mtb. I replaced it with a $150 Giro Pnuemo, a few months after that some airhead bitch in an SUV with a cellphone stuck to her head passed me and turned right into a parking lot. I was doing almost 30 mph at the time, there was absolutely no where for me to go. That time I got really lucky, though, and only had to replace my front wheel and the Pnuemo, which was cracked. Last fall another driver forced me to the right and my bar caught a road work sign at 20 mph. When your handlebar get yanked around you go down really, really fast. All I remember from that one was the sound of the back of my helmet hitting the pavement. No visible damage, but I bought a new one anyway.

Cost of helmets so far: $510
Cost of medical expenses due to head injuries: $0

Pretty cheap insurance, I think.


#20

I live in a screwed up state here in CT. It is required that anyone riding a bicycle, regardless of age, MUST wear a helmet or they are subject to arrest and/or confiscation of the bike. However, it is NOT required to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. FUBAR!