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Why Helmet Laws Shouldn’t Matter

Fourth of July weekend should be all about celebrating the freedom we Americans enjoy as a people. For me, that meant riding my motorcycle at a brisk pace through coastal Marin and Sonoma counties in Northern California, and then floating for many hours in the cool Russian River. For Philip Contos, a member of the Onondaga, NY ABATE chapter, that meant riding his Harley helmetless to an anti-helmet protest rally. What was probably a mellow group ride turned into a nightmare when Contos had to stop suddenly, apparently over-braking, fishtailing and then getting thrown over the handlebars. He suffered a fractured skull and was dead at the scene. The state patrol said he would have survived had he been wearing a helmet. That his death was sadly ironic is indisputable. That he was a warrior for bikers’ rights isn’t.

I am not writing this to advocate for helmet laws. I’m asking, rhetorically, why we even need them in the first place. I understand that Americans cherish their freedom and don’t like being told by government what to do, but there are lots of dangerous activities that aren’t outlawed in 20 states the way riding helmetless is. As far as I know, you can run with scissors, juggle scorpions, ride laps in your closed garage or barbeque indoors in California or New York. But why would you want to?

We all know, except for those with a high capacity for self-delusion, that helmets greatly reduce the incidence of head injury. We also know that most helmets are impacted on the chin bar or temple in crashes. We also know that the alleged disadvantages of helmet use—discomfort, reduced hearing and visibility and risk of neck injury are either nonexistent or exaggerated. And yet, riders in states without helmet laws use their helmets less than 50 percent of the time. Why? Nobody will say why they don’t want to wear a helmet, although my suspicion is that it has to do with the orthodoxy of the Harley-Davidson-oriented cruiser culture; my grandpa didn’t wear a helmet, my friends don’t wear helmets, so I don’t need one either. Sportbikers aren’t immune to the siren song of riding helmetless, but I think they just like to show off how fearless they are.

Why they prefer riding helmetless is seldom vocalized. Instead, the helmetless biker will quickly elevate the conversation to a philosophical (and interesting) one about the rights of man, the role of government, the fate of free men in a Nanny State. But I have yet to hear a cogent argument as to why it’s a good idea to ride bare-headed. Just making a short trip? Many crashes happen a short distance from home (when I found that out I moved, yet I keep crashing). Maybe you won’t be going that fast or you’re staying off the Interstate? That’s another absurdity—most crashes happen on city streets, at speeds under 30 mph. “I’ll just be taking it easy today.” Silliness. If we could pick what day we were going to crash, we’d just stay at home and ride on the day we know we’re not crashing on (if you’re scheduling a crash, mid-week is great, as the emergency rooms have shorter lines). Anti-helmet-law advocates rightly point out that helmets don’t prevent crashes. True enough, but they sure do lessen the consequences. Face it—you can’t tell anybody it’s logical to ride without a helmet (and other safety gear) every time you ride.

So I can say, confidently, that helmet laws don’t affect me. Why? Because no matter where I am, from Cozumel to Cuyahoga, I am going to be wearing a full-face lid. I could care less if I have the “right” to ride without. I could jab a golf tee into my eye as well, but I won’t be heading to an AGOTE (Association to jab GOlf Tees in my Eye) meeting anytime soon. I’ll be riding my motorcycle.

How do we keep “The Man” off our backs and get helmet laws repealed in 50 states? By getting helmet usage up to 80 percent or better so that the benefits of a law would disappear. If the general public—81 percent of whom think helmet use should be mandatory—saw us wearing helmets, they would leave us alone (so long as we also had acceptably quiet exhausts, but that’s a discussion for another day). Believe it.

So please just wear your freakin’ (and full-face) helmet. There are many more motorcycle-related issues, like insurance discrimination, lane-sharing and use of public land that could productively harness your energy.

243 Comments

  1. Ryan D says:

    Given that the only person harmed by a decision to wear or not wear a helmet is the person making the choice I say worry about yourself not what you think others should be doing…
    I rode dirtbikes for years until a work injury sidelined me, chest protector, brain bucket, tech8 boots, good riding pants/jersey all worn religiously. I also make the choice not to wear a helmet while riding on the street.

    as for valid reasons not to wear a helmet, being dead or a quadraplegic from a snapped neck, think this isn’t a valid point? I hit an unmarked chain stretched between 2 posts doing roughly 35mph on an enduro bike (managed to wheelie and caught chain just below the bars rather than decapitate myself trying to dump and slide), 270 stitches, right eyelid sewn back together, 2 dents in my skull matching the crossbar on the handlebars later I’m told I was very lucky, if I had been wearing a helmet it would have snapped my neck like a twig..
    So my options were 1: quad or dead – 2: back on the bike 3 days later with some scars and a remodeled nose, I’m very gratefull I got option 2…
    As for the remark about wearing a helmet to keep your head cool in the summer, seriously?
    you found a brain bucket with built in ac?? My mx helmets are about as light and well ventilated as your ever going to find and I sweat gallons in the august heat just puttering around.

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    • Deedadee says:

      Whoever told you that probably doesn’t have much sense as you wouldn’t have had 270 stitches, right eyelid sewn back together, 2 dents in my skull matching the crossbar on the handlebars if you had been wearing a helmet.

      This is a complete myth that the helmetless brigade spews. Helmets don’t snap necks.

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      • Ryan D says:

        the emt’s, er docs and nurses, you know the people that usually whine “if only he had been wearing a helmet” are the ones that told me…

        and since helmets could never snap necks why are we seeing sanctioning body mandated neck braces ie horseshoe (usually auto) or leet style (mx/offroad etc) designed specificly to reduce or prevent cervical and thoracic injuries from helmets?

        use your head, extra weight and mass attached above your neck is directly attributable to increased cervical and depending on the impact thoracic injuries.

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  2. Gummee says:

    I’ve crashed a bicycle in lycra. It hurts. MC riding is much faster, with many more opportunities for things to go wrong (other road users) so I’ll wear the gear thanks.

    I make my living with my head. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t wear a helmet riding my bicycle OR my MC.

    Ultimately, its your choice as to how much you choose to expose yourself to risks. My ex- was an ICU nurse. Took care of a cruiser rider in CA that (helmet state) had a turkey fly into his face. Broke darn near every bone in his face THEN he crashed. Wearing a FF he probably still would’ve crashed, but he’d certainly be able to eat out of something other than a straw.

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  3. kpaul says:

    Imagine playing football without a helmet. I would never play hockey without a helmet. Imagine playing baseball without out a batting helmet. Just a thought

    Report this comment

  4. Rock says:

    Out of interest D, which sled do you ride?

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  5. johnny ro says:

    Cigarettes.

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  6. kirk66 says:

    The Libertarian in me says- no helmet laws. The motorcycle insurance agent background says- it will save your life. The cruel truth is this: Medical expenses if you survive will be astronomical and in most cases will be spread out to every other patient in that hospital bc you don’t have the funds to pay for your survival. SO- here’s the simple solution: If you crash out and you are at-fault then you should bare the whole burden of financial responsibility to the institutions are full re-paid. No banrupcy and liens are allowed.

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    • Rock says:

      So Kirk.

      Lets suppose you work in a casualty department of a hospital and a badly injured motorcyclist is wheeled in, in critical condition and with no insurance or money.

      Remembering that this injured man is a fellow American who loves his country and is prepared to die for it.

      What will you do?

      Let him die because he has no insurance or help him?

      After all what is patriotism and love of your country about?

      Remember, all this bulls**t about loving your country isn’t about property nor money, but about the people, your fellow countrymen.

      It’s easy to talk about those who can’t pay for their survival, but if you are standing next to a man who is in trauma, you’ll most likely stop talking out of your a** and help the guy.

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      • Justin says:

        Where did Kirk say to not save the guy? He didn’t. You read too much into that. He simply said the guy should be financial responsible after the fact. And I happen to agree with him.

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        • Rock says:

          Sorry if I read into it J.

          Agreed that uninsured should have to pay.

          I see many uninsured with very little resource or ability to ever pay.
          Unfortunately we still have to spend public resource to help these dudes.
          A civilized society can’t let a downed brother die over money, even though we’ll often provide downgraded care.

          The unfortunate thing is that whether individuals are pursued or not, there is still a huge deficit.

          Much better to put a lid on the 4,000 skulls which end up in fatalities each year, not to mention far greater numbers who survive but need expensive care.

          In my country there is 99.98% adherence to helmet use.
          The only abstainers are a few 1%’s in a State which offers exemption via a medical certificate but these are very few.
          If we had freedom to choose as occurs in the U.S. then fatalities/injuries would go through the roof and the spotlight would be placed on all riders.

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        • Rock says:

          Just wondered Justin.

          What did Kirk mean about “no aliens allowed”?

          “No bankruptcy” means you’d still get pursued for costs no matter what.

          By “no aliens allowed” did Kirk mean not to help the guy?

          I don’t think he meant not allowed in the country.
          That would be Utopia.
          If we’re talking about aliens the vast majority have very little money.
          That’s why they’re aliens.

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  7. Doug says:

    I am a firm believer in a motorcyclist’s right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. The applicable theory is called “Darwinism”, and it eventually makes more room on the roads and planet for the rest of us…

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    • Dannytheman says:

      2009 data proves you right. Of the over 4000 deaths, 51% were not wearing a helmet! Don’t hold your breath waiting for the big change in traffic patterns.

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      • Jeremy in TX says:

        That is a meaningless statement without knowing how many total accidents there were and the respective percentage of helmet wearing survivors vs skull-bearing survivors. In other words, helmet wearers may make up a larger percentage of the accidents.

        When the helmet law was repealed in Texas, the death rate increased 15.2% … making more room on the roadways.

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        • Dannytheman says:

          What??? Of the 4000 people dead by motorcycle accident 49% of them were wearing helmets! Seems simple to me. And the numbers of death decreased from 2008 to 2009 and 2009 to 2010 . I am using the US governments number here my friend!

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    • Rock says:

      Said like a Lemming.

      Move over for the million other clones who spout the same crap.

      You have absolutely no real awareness of what you say.

      It’s just a cliche.

      Report this comment

  8. KAWZIES says:

    I have this paranoia that someone will somehow steal my helmet when I’m 100 miles from home and nowhere near any open cycle shops and am forced to ride home helmetless and will inevitably get a ticket. I always lock my helmet but still…..you could be at the mercy of some asshole prankster! Repeal the stupid law so riders can at least deal with contingencies without fear of Johnny-Give-Me-Cash-Law!!!!!!! I agree 100% with the author-I will never ride helmetless so I don’t need any babysitting.

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  9. Cameron says:

    People ride helmetless for simular reasons that they ride motorcycles in the first place

    IT FEELS GOOD
    We all know motorcycling is dangerous, much more dangerous than modern car travel, yet we choose to ride aware of the risks because it feels good. Some motorcyclists choose to ride without a helmet, whilst aware of the risks, because it feels good.

    If your down on them for increasing your medical insurance, taxes ect don’t bad mouth non motorcyclists for using tine same argument to ban dangerous motorcycles.

    Those who are sane educated and able to make decisions for themselves should be able to then let Darwin’s Theory prevail

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    • Rock says:

      That’s just mindless rhetoric that hundreds churn out without thought or experience.

      The mindless crap includes “Darwin’s Theory prevailing”, “Choice”, “Freedom”,& “Nanny State”.

      If l hear these expressions one more time I’m going to vomit.

      Of course the most feeble argument often used is that it would be the first step in something worse.

      Be honest and admit you’ve already made up your mind, and will seek anything you can find which will support your position.

      It’s obvious that the use of Helmets won’t precipitate the banning of motorcycles.

      Crippling costs and an unacceptable toll will.

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    • Dannytheman says:

      Some of you people are unbelievable! Now I am insane, uneducated and part of the Darwins Natural selection pool? What else have I been called? A cretin, a moran and what else?

      It is heartless snobbery that will kill the sport of motorcycling. “Sure, we will wear helmets, blaze yellow jackets and have strobe light shoved up our asses, because the GOVERNMENT says so!!”

      Sheeple like you get eaten, the strong survive!

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      • kpaul says:

        I was watching the most trusted newsman in America Jon Stewart last night :) After that on Cobert there was a author on who said us human minds work like a lawyers mind not like a scientist’s mind. Humans make a prejudgement and then seek facts and data to support their position, just like lawyers. Scientists keep an open mind and let the facts and data lead them to a conclusion. I think if we think like scientists we will all come to the same conclusion Gabe so eloquently presented.

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      • Steve says:

        I personally think you may have taken my statements below the wrong way. I could care less what you do, as long as it does not affect me. As far as the government is concern I would rather they stay out of my business, however when someone else choices affect me or my family directly then yes I want the government or someone to do something about that. Which is why we have police to protect us and put criminals away, we have the military to protect us from all those other nations (and not as the world police), and we have laws to protect all of us from one another.
        So, like the helmet laws I feel the main they do is to protect me from paying higher insurance. Otherwise if you want to splatter your brains on the ground go ahead. Also just like smoking I do not want to go to a restaurant with my family while some guy is chain smoking (Law: Florida Clean Air Act).
        But you have your beliefs I have mine, and that is one of the many things that make this country great. I may disagree with you DANNY, but that’s ok.
        PS: The old Bell Ad, which was great, was: “ IF YOU HAVE A $10 HEAD WEAR A $10 HELMET”. My family has owned and operated a Motorcycle business since 1948. My grandfather, the man who started the business, has always advocated wearing a helmet.

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  10. Rock says:

    It can only happen in America.

    Your Government allows you the illusion of freedom by not enforcing Compulsory Helmet Laws whilst your real rights (Patriot Act) and the use of technology has stolen your freedom & privacy from under your noses.

    One wonders whether you have also lost your freedom to think as individuals, when countless are churned out with the same inflexible stance, squealing “Nanny State and My Freedom!”, like robotic clones without active intelligence.

    If you really look, modern societies including yours have many guidelines and by laws required when many coexist.

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    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I think we all understand and appreciate the usefulness and need for laws and norms to build an operational society.

      This is more a discussion about individualism and personal choice than freedom (or the illusion of it), and, no, they are not the same thing. And, with respect, the relationship between freedom and individualism is a concept (in regards to the American psyche) not so easily understood by people not from our country. Perhaps you find your comment about helmet laws and the Patriot Act clever and ironically funny, but most of us “yanks” are just scratching our heads because you clearly don’t get what we are “squealing” back and forth about.

      The Patriot Act, far reaching as it may be, has absolutely no affect on our day-to-day choices in life unless we are in the business of orchestrating terroist attacks. For most of us, it is an easy concession to make in return for greater security. A helmet law directly affects people who choose not to wear helmets (a group that feels their choice to do so harms no one but themselves), so this law encroaches more into our day-to-day lives than something even as profound as the Patriot Act. This reasoning may be as senseless to you as your comment was to many of us, but it would be difficult to explain the driving components of our culture in few words. I’m sure there are great books on it somewhere.

      Some observations about rider culture in your country or your perspective on helmet use vs the option to ride lidless would be much more interesting (particularly since you seem to be from outside the US) and constructive than revealing your murky understanding of the intricacies of our culture.

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      • Rock says:

        The Patriot Acts purpose is to protect against terrorism but the result is an invasion of privacy on a previously unheard of scale. This gives faceless agents the power to do anything they like without any scrutiny. It’s fine to feel safe until your personal world is touched.

        The individualism & personal choice you talk about sounds frivolous and egotistical compared to the stakes involved.

        When you actually look at this right to individualism & personal choice, what drives it.

        Is it really yours, or is it marketing driven and designed to extract your dollar as a consumer.

        Humans aren’t born with stupidity not to ride helmetless on a motorcycle.
        This fashion has been driven by marketing and image.

        Those immature enough to be sucked in to individualism & personal choice at any cost lack awareness of their natural characteristic of empathy for their fellow man.

        If all the riders in your country were your sons and daughters would you let them ride helmetless for the sake of their whim for fashion?

        How would you feel, holding the dead body of your child, knowing that he had been free to be able to wear a bandana whilst riding, rather than a lid?

        Professing individualism & personal choice for the sake if fashion at any cost takes away a nations ability to discuss, debate and decide on individual issues with minimum impact to freedom.

        100% individualism & personal choice in a society where millions coexist is Uptopia.

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        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I’m not debating the merits of the Patriot Act or the right to individualism, real or imagined. It just seems to me your arguments are being made in a context that isn’t valid to many touting the “freedom” line with respect to wearing helmets and therefore may not hit home in the manner you would like.

          I support helmet laws and made a fairly wordy post earlier as to why. The reasons had nothing to do with individualism or natural selection. It has everything to do with sons and daughters (as you mention above) that learn by example and rely on adults and peers to do responsible things to pave the way to a culture that embraces self preservation.

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      • Rock says:

        If you look at individualism in you country you will see a number of stereotypes.

        Each stereotype has been fashioned by environment, conditioning, & marketing over many years.

        There is no such thing as pure individualism other than for each of us to select a stereotype to follow.
        Once you select it the rules are clearly set out.

        You might choose the Outlaw Biker image or one of its subsets.
        This will cause most of you to embrace the helmetless look.
        The rules are already set.

        What kind of freedom is that?

        One stereotype is to be an American, living in the land of the free.
        Taught from a very young age to place your hand on your heart and shed tears when they play the Star Spangled Banner”.
        This creates people who are willing to lay down their lives for their country.
        Perfect for recruitment into the Army and to kill for ones country without question.

        Lets be honest.
        There is no true freedom.
        Everyone has been sucked into perceived freedom.
        Often tokenist freedom as allowed to perpetuate this illusion.

        The only true freedom is to be aware of your thoughts, and observe them without attachment.
        Eventually these thoughts will drift away.
        Most of them aren’t yours anyway.
        They’ve all been inherited.

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      • Rock says:

        Over here they’re looking at new guidelines for alcohol consumption and availability.

        The researchers are saying the the human brain is still developing up until the mid 20′s.

        Research also confirms that alcohol consumption can adversely affect brains which aren’t yet fully developed.

        That tells us that many humans, particularly young males, are incapable of making correct decisions.

        Thy are genetically wired to take risks.

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  11. Zuki says:

    What if you suddenly needed to give someone a ride home and you gave them your helmet to wear? You would be pulled over and given a ticket. Or, if they trusted you enough and they chose not to wear it so you could see properly to ride safely, would you be pulled over and fined heavily for endangering someone’s life? What happens if your helmet is stolen and you want to get home, or you’re caught riding to the motorcycle shop to buy a new one… “Sure, I’ve heard that one plenty of times. Here’s your ticket” said Occifer Ray.

    What happens when making laws to protect us from our own stupidity? It gets out of hand… Don’t stop at helmets… require full armored riding gear in really bright colors (motorcycles must be brightly colored too), boots, gloves, oscillating headlight (and an oscillating light on top of the helmet too), abs, traction control, training wheels, deer whistles (or human whistles if you’re in the city, who should also be wearing a helmet if they are crossing the street), etc. or you’ll be fined. By the way, I just had a thought that we’ll need to make any kind of water sport require helmet use as well. Water skiing without a helmet should carry a huge fine. Oh… we can’t stop there! You’ll need a helmet while down-hill skiing or snowboarding… full face of course!

    Obviously, I’m on the side that believes there should not be a helmet law. However, I almost always wear a helmet, because I feel naked without one. I find it difficult to ride with my eyes watering and bugs pelting my face (along with the odd pebble). Getting caught in a rainstorm is worse without a helmet because rain drops feel like little stinging pebbles hitting the face. The wind roar can be painful without a helmet too (I wear earplugs with my helmet, and I can actually hear better than not, because there is less wind roar. The engine sounds better and more defined, and surrounding vehicles are more clearly heard). Rider fatigue is caused mainly by wind roar and loud exhaust noise, not physical strain, unless you have one of those silly race-replicas for the street, or an odd ape-hanger/parachute bike.

    I enjoy the everyday protection that a full-face helmet provides along with the potential life-saving benefit. On rare occasions I like to ride without, like on a short trip around the block to check out the tuning on my carburetors or to listen for any abnormal noise. I noticed a comment by one guy stating that his helmet “literally allowed me to live”. Your helmet does not make a decision as to whether you die or not… you make the decision to wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet increases your chances of survival, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

    We don’t need laws protecting us from ourselves. Keep down this path and eventually motorcycling itself will be illegal because it’s too dangerous. Maybe three wheels will be allowed like Can-Am’s Spyder but full riding gear will be mandatory. Two wheels are just too dangerous. Alcohol and cigarettes should always be available to those that want to relax and escape the bureaucratic tyrants on top of the everyday stress, killing themselves very slowly and responsibly… with a helmet required if you have three or more drinks in case you trip and hit your head.

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  12. lesmeister says:

    Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Insurance

    We must remember that use of the public roads is a privilege, and not a right of citizenship. Each state has the responsibility to enact laws that it deems are necessary for the safety and well being of ALL citizens in its jurisdiction. There is a cost to the public of not using safety apparel on motorcycles and in automobiles, which is passed on to all individuals who have to purchase insurance via higher premiums.

    Currently most insurance companies offer premium reductions for a number of conditions such as safe driver, rider training and a number of others. For those who want freedom of choice in wearing recognized and/or approved safe riding apparel while operating their motorcycle on public roads, let me suggest a two tier system of insurance premiums, based on the policy holders electing to either use or not use safety gear listed by the insurance company issuing the policy.

    Each listed item of safety apparel that the policy holder elected to use while riding would allow a reduction in the policy premium. The apparel would have to be worn at all times the insured vehicle was being operated. This would include any guest operators or passengers.

    If the vehicle was stopped by law enforcement or was involved in an accident, and the officer observed that the operator was not wearing the apparel that the operators proof of insurance papers indicated, he could issue a ticket to the operator and the insurance company would be notified.

    According to the terms approved by the state and set forth in the policy, the company could, depending on circumstances, cancel the policy; require retroactive payment of the higher non usage premium, with a failure to comply penalty fee; make the operator ineligible for the safe riding apparel discount for a period of years. Any one or a combination of the above and/or other actions as agreed to by the insurance companies and the state insurance regulatory authority could be used for enforcement.

    This concept would allow the ‘Freedom of Choice’ advocates to be able to assume more of the cost associated with their choice and give the safety apparel users a fairer price on their insurance premiums and an incentive for purchasing and using the recognized and/or approved safe riding apparel.

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    • Dannytheman says:

      Most of what you have here exists already. Get in an accident, higher premiums, get a speeding ticket, higher premiums? It’s the same as car insurance, dude!

      So 8 times I take the experienced course, I never have had a ticket or an accident and have been paying hundreds a year for over 35 years… Time value of money says I should die free!!

      Report this comment

      • kpaul says:

        Big difference is the helmet thing. Get in accident without a helmet you are dead game over. Only takes one accident Danny. It would be a shame for you to die or become a vegetable after that impressive driving record.

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        • Dannytheman says:

          OK, so how does this grab you? My friend/neighbor is a doctor. He tells me that more motorcyclist die from their internal organs exploding from sudden impact than ever die from head trauma. Don’t shoot the messenger now!

          Listen, I am willing to chance it. And maybe I will only land on my ass and take off a few pounds of old saggy skin. Skin graft anyone?

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          • LarryC says:

            Just because he’s a doctor doesn’t make him right. He’s full of shyte.

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          • Seth says:

            Mire fire victims die of smoke inhalation than burning. So if I set myself on fire, but breathe air from a scuba tank, I should be ok.

            Same argument.

            I’ve crashed many motorcycles at high speeds on track, both on dirt and asphalt. I’ve never had an internal organ explode, but I’ve had many incidents that would have been fatal had I not been wearing a helmet.

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          • kpaul says:

            Sorry don’t believe you. If do have neighbor that is a doctor and he said it. He is full of it like LarryC said

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          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Your doctor-neighbor must be forming his opinion from observations of what he sees come into the hospital. Makes sense. The accident victims not wearing helmets get delivered to the morgue, not the ER. They don’t require his services. Perhaps that is why he doesn’t see as many head-injury fatalities.

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          • Cameron says:

            I think the statistics are a little scewed because of helmet laws. If we all rode helmetless there would be a greatly increased incidence of head truma

            If you want to ride lidless so be it but dont sitck your head in the sand regarding there value when your involved in an accident

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  13. Norm G. says:

    seems pretty straight forward then. you have a right to NOT wear a helmet so long as it doesn’t trample over anyone else’s rights? this would be the same as any of the multitude of other issues that impact society as a whole. personally, i don’t care what anybody else does. drink, smoke cigs, smoke pot, use drugs, don’t wear a helmet…? knock yourself out, it’s your life. as long as it doesn’t affect me or anybody else i say go for it. but ahhhh, therein lies the catch. it’s that whole “affecting somebody else” thing. no man is an island.

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    • kpaul says:

      Absolutely. For example Dan is rider from Philadelphia. He rides helmet less to his work every day to the Power Plant in Ridley Park. His route is a mixture of surface streets and freeway. He is riding with his friend K.P. K.P rides every day with full-face helmet on his sport bike. KP is slightly to left and behind Dan. A car pulls out in front. Dan is unable to stop his bike hits the front fender of a Lexus and he goes over the handle bars and lands on the front of his head. He is instantly killed. KP hits the back of the car flips and lands on his face. His helmet is scratched but he is able to get up to see about his friend. KP immediately calls 9-11. The police and paramedics are called. Because the accident resulted in a fatality the investigation will take hours. Traffic will be backed up for miles costing thousands of dollars in wasted time and gas for hundreds of motorists. Police will be tied up investigating an accident and death that was not necessary and could have been permitted. The costs to the community are significant.

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      • Dannytheman says:

        Not to mention the crying your wife would be doing!! Sorry, couldn’t resist a liitle ribbing, I will go back to being conveniently dead.

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        • Norm G. says:

          actually, you make a VERY good point. helmet wearer or not, someone who rides has to consider MORE than their own selfish desires, but also the concerns/needs of a spouse, children, etc. in some ways their feelings pretty much TRUMP whatever goofy, mis-guided crusade the rider might be on. assuming they aren’t a total jerk…? family and friends would be severly impacted if they were to suddenly leave this earth. i speak from experience having lost my father when i was only 7 years old.

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          • Dannytheman says:

            I have provided for my family with a substantial life insurance policy. Now it won’t be the same without me, but my family would be secure in their financial concerns. I do think of my family, I have done all the research, I have investigated over 130 accidents in great detail. Crash prevention training is what is needed.

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  14. Montana says:

    I’m not that fond of the feeling of a hurricane in my face, so contrary to a popular argument, I actually find wearing a helmet more comfortable than not wearing one. When it gets too hot, I also wear an evaporative vest — much more cooling than a bare head.
    Nonetheless, can’t the same arguments that favor helmet laws be used to ban bikes, or any other sporting activity? There is already a precedent; off-road 3 wheelers were banned in the name of safety.
    I’m told that more people die in horse and bicycle spills every year than motorcycle accidents. Is there an equestrian helmet law? How ’bout a helmet law for bicyclists, skateboarders, skiers and anyone who takes a shower? How far do we go with this? How much power do we concede to bureaucrats?

    Report this comment

  15. Tom Shields says:

    Gabe – Thanks for a well-written and thought-provoking article.

    Report this comment

  16. Markus says:

    Harley riders don’t wear helmets for the same reason they do pay $20K+ for a Harley, Image.
    They want people to see their Harley, but more importantly, they want people to see THEM on their Harley. Same reason they all get obnoxiously loud pipes.
    For those who haven’t heard, the sound of a Harley isn’t “Potato, Potato, Potato”, it’s “Lookatme, Lookatme, Lookatme.”

    Report this comment

  17. KillerRC51 says:

    There is no arguing the fact of, “do helmets save lives?” Or even “do helmets reduce head injuries?” OF COUSE THEY DO. If you are still having that debate, then you obviously have either never gone down or have just been extremely lucky. I have and I am only still here because of the fact that I wear a full face helmet. Here is the big problem with our great nation. Everybody wants the “right to be free,” but the problem with that is that we simply are not. If we were all “free” then we wouldn’t be required to carry insurance on our rides. And because we all are required to have insurance, we all should be required to put a lid on. All insurance rates are, in some part, determined by accident injury costs. When some yahoo goes down without a helmet they will most likely suffer from a major head injury (see story above). Head injury is the most costly type of injury there is. That causes all of our insurance rates to go up. So, until there is some way that insurance companies can monitor who wears their helmet and rates them accordingly, then everyone should be required to wear a helmet.

    Report this comment

  18. donniedarko says:

    If you dont wear a helmet you should be forced to sign a insurance waiver that says so. I dont want my rates or gov/municipal costs raised and used for covering ignorance.

    To the guy/dannytheman who keeps defending the right to not wear a helmet fine. If they statistically arent better and should wear them in cars I suppose it would apply to guys riding MX and in the dirt. They DONT have to wear helmets by law what is the reason the do? Maybe you should hit go face first over a triple and see how ‘useless’ helmets are then make the comment.

    Totally asinine argument to say helmets dont make sense, when this whole topic is about some idiot who is more focused on his right of choice over sensibility is dead because of it. Wonder what his kids and family think of his issue over right of choice versus sensibility. Be a lot better to have dad and grandpa around then go back and forth over such a stoopid argument. Puhhleeeeze

    ride safe guys
    dd

    Report this comment

    • Dannytheman says:

      Thanks for weighing in Donnie!! Your thought process makes no sense in my opinion, cars and dirt biking? “If they statistically arent better and should wear them in cars I suppose it would apply to guys riding MX and in the dirt.” It shows me the mindset of the folks I am debating, and people are cheering you on? Sheep!!
      NEVER did I say that helmets don’t make sense, why do people put words in my mouth? I said, YOU wear one, I don’t want to, your choice, my choice. Mixing driving a car with MotoCross is ludicrous. And all Certified MX courses do require helmets. So you are wrong, unless you ride in your back yard and consider it MX.
      Now, let’s debate the insurance issue. Prove it…..Based on what you say, I should pay less because I will die more often. Dead is cheaper, right? No long stays in the hospital?
      Look, I get it, you think I am stupid. I can live with that. Well over 50% of the United States allow an Adult to make a choice to wear or not wear a helmet. IF I had to pay more for insurance, I would, because I know my skills are better than most out there. I mean I pay 220 bucks a year, I could pay more.
      I sure wish some of you guys would stop making this a personal battle. I have not insulted or intimidated anyone. I fight for the freedoms I have and want to keep. I also do not mind debating people on the truths and issues.

      Report this comment

      • steve says:

        I see it didn’t take you long to “get it” Dan! You’re statements below are 100% accurate

        ….It shows me the mindset of the folks I am debating, and people are cheering you on? Sheep!!

        I sure wish some of you guys would stop making this a personal battle.

        They can’t do it Dan…. I’ve tried to “reason” with them & found them to be totally UNreasonable…. they are fast to judge & condemn any bike or idea that does not go with their vision of “right”…. & they just will not listen or consider any other perspective…

        If they had it their way, we’d all be riding Suzuki V-Stroms wearing one piece Roadcrafter suits & full face Shoei’s & our bikes would all have a little stuffed animal zip-tied to the rear luggage rack & we’d all wave nicely & sing “Kumbaya” when we stopped at red lights & we’d be so nice to the car drivers that everyone would just love us to death….& we wouldn’t ride wheelies or break the speed limit & we’d organize weekend bike washes at each others houses so we could all wash our bikes together & then we’d sing some more Kumbaya & oh my…. I think I just peed my pants

        HAHAH…hohohoho!

        Report this comment

      • kpaul says:

        Danny, motorcycledaily.com is the thinking man’s motorcycle site. Sounds like you might be happier on the Fox News of motorcycle sites motorcycle.com. This is where steve is from. On motorcycle.com all sane and intelligent people who disagree with the anti helmet Glen Beck followers get banned. ;)

        Report this comment

        • Dannytheman says:

          You are funny!! A real progressive Obama supporter, but funny!
          So I am not a thinking man? WOW! You elitists are unbelievable!

          Report this comment

          • steve says:

            yes Dan.. kpaul is “funny” in a scary, kool-aide drinking, “I-get-all-my-beliefs-from-colbert/stewart” kind of way….

            I like the line from kpaul where he makes himself out to be a “thinker” after he admits to being in lock-step with whatever stewart & colbert et al (other lib media) say…. I don’t see where anything “thinking” is taking place…he’s told what to say & do… ain’t no thinking happening..

            we need to cut the country in 1/2 with the libs on the left coast & conservs on the right….

            guess which coast would prosper economically, culturally, freedom-wise, financially, etc….

            the left coast would be no more than another failed “peoples utopia”… & they’d all ride the 20 minute electric bikes with full roadgear suit, full face helmet, gloves…
            watch out what you wish for comes to mind…

            Report this comment

  19. kpaul says:

    Philip Contos in death may have a huge impact but not in the way he would want…This story was played all over the country with the main stream media including on the very funny Bill Mahr show on HBO… I love his take http://www.hbo.com/real-time-with-bill-maher/index.html#/real-time-with-bill-maher/index.html

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    • Dannytheman says:

      Not everyone think Bill Maher is funny! Hardly anyone watches him.
      Flying Wild Alaska (DISCOVERY) – 1.3 million viewers – 0.4 (18-49) rating

      American Loggers (DISCOVERY) – 1.2 million viewers – 0.4 (18-49) rating

      Wizards of Waverly Place (DISNEY) – 3.75 million viewers – 0.7 (18-49) rating

      Fish Hooks (DISNEY) – 3.0 million viewers – 0.5 (18-49) rating

      Phineas and Ferb (DISNEY) – 3.2 million viewers – 0.5 (18-49) rating

      The Soup (E!) – 1.05 million viewers – 0.6 (18-49) rating

      Fashion Police Weekly (E!) – 0.65 million viewers – 0.3 (18-49) rating

      The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO) – 0.25 million viewers – 0.1 (18-49) rating

      Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) – 0.9 million viewers – 0.2 (18-49) rating

      WWE Smackdown (SYFY) – 3.05 million viewers – 0.9 (18-49) rati

      Report this comment

      • Steve says:

        there you go bringing those pesky “FACTS” into the argument again!!!

        Facts have no bearing on kpaul type “thinkers”…. they are zealots for whatever cause they are told to support by the lib media machine… & facts don’t matter unless they can use them to support their position…

        BAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa…BAAAAAAAAAA (sheep)

        Report this comment

  20. Tom says:

    Wow. I cannot believe the number of anti-individualist and/or collectivist comments coming from pro-helmet-wearing riders in response to this article. Maybe its just that the helmet topic brings out the collectivist or authoritarian-oriented “holier-than-thou” riders, and the rest of us just ignore the topic. I feel compelled to respond in the interest of balance.

    Full disclosure: Age 43. Been riding morotcycles for 37 years. Prefer dual-sports, adventure touring, and sportbikes. Never owned a cruiser; probably never will. Currently own four motorcycles. I wear a helmet most of the time (80%+), but not always. I have had plenty of spills when I was younger, fortunately never a head injury either with or without a helmet.

    First, the argument that the government (i.e., taxpayer funding) owns (or regulates) the roads and thus has the right to tell us what to do “for our own good” (wear helmets, fasten seatbelts, limit speeds, purchase only vehicles “approved” by the authorities, etc.) is no argument at all in support of helmet laws. It is an argument instead in support of privatizing roadways, to the extent that current technology exists to do so through efficient toll collection (excludability). Then, the true PRIVATE owners of the roadways can make whatever regulations they wish on the basis of private property rights, and those regulations will no doubt be based upon the preferences of the drivers and riders who pay the tolls and utilize the transportation services provided. Some roadways would require strict helmet use, others none. That’s the nature of the voluntary marketplace. There is no voluntary marketplace under the current federal and state monopoly of roadways. Mostly it is an autocracy or authoritarian bureaucracy to which we must submit. Certainly not the kind of freedom most riders pride themselves in standing up for. Although, apparently many of the riders posting on this topic care not for freedom at all, but simply wish to indulge themselves in a crusade against the freedoms of others simply because they disagree with the choices that others make when given that freedom.

    Second, the reason that some people choose not to wear helmets (when given the option to exercise their personal freedom to abstain) is because they believe, subjectively, that the marginal benefits of not wearing a helmet exceed the marginal costs, including the increased risk of head injury in an accident. That is all anyone needs to know or understand, and, contrary to the author of the article, is indeed quite logical. The same logic applies to those who do wear helmets: they believe the marginal benefits of wearing a helmet exceed the marginal costs. These costs and benefits are assessed subjectively by each individual, and even differently by the same individual at different times and under different circumstances. Most of the time, I am in the helmet-wearing camp. But, sometimes I am in the helmetless camp. I try not to judge others either way. I am a professional and spend a good part of my time in front of audiences. I do not like to have “helmet hair” when speaking to large groups. But, I still want to ride a bike to my place of employment when the weather permits. So, on those days, I strap a helmet in a helmet bag around my back, go helmetless to work, then wear the helmet on my way home. I am fully aware of the greater risks of going helmetless. That is indisputable in my view. Yet, I still make the cost-benefit tradeoff, just like every other rider does when they mount up, one way or the other.

    I just wish the ATGATT and helmet-wearing riders could please stop the holier-than-thou crusading against the “cruiser culture” or the “sportbike mentality” and understand that wearing or not wearing a helmet (when given the freedom to choose) is a personal, subjective, cost-benefit calculation. Have some tolerance for once, please.

    Report this comment

    • kpaul says:

      Let me get this straight. [B] You don’t wear a helmet in the morning to work because it will mess up your hair? [/B] That is so dumb…There is a thing called a comb that you can get at Walgreens that might help. By the way driving and riding is a privilege not a right protected by the Constitution.

      Report this comment

      • Marc says:

        Actually following your reasoning, our right to ride a motorcycle at all is a privilege and not a right protected by the Constitution. Personally, I think we may live to see our right to ride disappear.

        Report this comment

    • Rock says:

      Tom.

      Sounding authoritative, I started to read your post with interest.

      That is until you started to detail your argument.

      You are so polarized you are blind to your own conditioning.

      Report this comment

  21. john welch says:

    Rarely discussed .. most automobile deaths are from head injuries. I wonder why?

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  22. navek says:

    funny it’s always the same cruiser riding cretins who don’t wear helmets or gloves, believe loud pipes save lives and think using the front brake is dangerous. Next time you think it’s good not to wear gloves imagine how embarrassing it would be to have to ask someone to wipe your arse for you because your hands are bandaged!

    Report this comment

    • Thoppa says:

      I’d wipe my own arse with the bandages and then ask to have them changed. But that’s me….

      Report this comment

    • Dannytheman says:

      I’m a cretin? What am I if I wear gloves, my pipes are louder than some, less than most with baffles installed and I use the front brake?
      I changed my pipes because on air cooled bikes the only way to increase the HP is to change the air flow, so to got from 60-65 to 75-80 HP I made some changes.
      The radiator guys don’t need to do this!

      Report this comment

  23. Lynchenstein says:

    A good friend of mine once said, “If you think you don’t need to wear a helmet, you are correct.”

    Report this comment

    • Foogunheimer says:

      With friends like that, who needs enemies? Is that something you would tell your 16 year old son who just bought his first street bike? I think not. Better rethink your friends.

      Report this comment

      • Dannytheman says:

        Geez, when you put it like that?!?!?! What he tells his son to do would be his business and his business only. Why do people have to impose on another persons choices? Are you better than him?
        How long has his son been riding? How much experience does he have? Even in Pennsylvania they make you wear a helmet if under 21. I also know many people over 21 who should wear one. But I know it is not my choice.

        Report this comment

        • Foogunheimer says:

          It hurts to look at the situation when it involves the one you love. I would not let my kid ride without a helmet because I love him and care for him. Since his head is very vulnerable in a crash, I would think that a helmet makes the most sense. Hard to argue with logic and physics, isn’t it? Also, the head of a 40 year old male is no harder than the head of a sixteen year old, so the same helmet would offer similar protection. I guess everyone, regardless of age should wear a lid for his own benefit. Why is that so hard to accept?

          Report this comment

          • Dannytheman says:

            What you do with your kid is your business and I totally support you for that. Just leave me and my kids alone to make our own decisions, even if it disagrees with yours. I love my sons just as much, and if I have taught him right, he will be able to make that choice on his own.

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  24. mr_dirtrider says:

    Its funny how some riders want to act like riding without a helmet is a “right” or “choice”.

    Driving or riding on public roads has never been a right. Nothing about it is a right, including your choice to wear a helmet or seatbelts if the powers that be deem those to be a requirement.

    Report this comment

    • Dannytheman says:

      I never mention anywhere in my responses that I think it is a right! I am quite aware of the laws regarding vehicle operations. I do think that I do not like the government mandating my safety. I am responsible for me.
      I will not speak to your definition of freedom, please do not to aspire to speak of mine.
      The Powers to be are often wrong, that is why we have elections and things change. Pennsylvania had a helmet law, and I followed it. Now it doesn’t and I choose to not wear one. Nothing against your choice, I just prefer that it be mine. When I travel to States that require a lid, NJ, MD and NY, I wear one.
      Maybe you read somewhere that Freedom isn’t Free!!?? I fought for and will continue to fight, for yours.

      Report this comment

  25. Milt McNally says:

    For the sake of full disclosure I owned the BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Vespa dealership for 10 yrs in Knoxville TN (a helmet state).

    Over the years I heard the “freedom” argument over and over agian. At best this is a weak argument, lacking any basis in law or tradition. But that being said I have a simple solution to those who endlessly argue for the repeal of manditory helmet laws.

    I posed this to many anti-helmet law advocates over 10 years.
    If you don’t want to wear a lid DON’T! Their response was almost universally “But,I’ll get a ticket”.

    My answer was always so what, do you ever exceed the posted speed limit? Always ansewered “yes”.

    Well then waht is the problem. If you truely think it is you “right” then use your ticket as a moment to defend your right in court.

    A real American way to protest, not some namby pamby ride for helmet freedom BS.

    Report this comment

  26. Tim C says:

    Yep, fully agree. And agree on ATGATT, and hell yes, helmet should be full-face. I like my chin, personally (I mean, not how it’s pointy and kind of sticks out a bit – I’m not quite moon-faced exactly, but still – but I mean I like it intact).

    I have a good story on this – I’m now in Denver (but learned to ride in SF), so it’s riding season (an annoying concept faced by, alas, most of the nation as it turns out) – and most don’t wear helmet, or much else. Fellow rider at work (doesn’t wear helmet on his “just a scooter” and doesn’t always wear helmet (and barely any other gear – jacket I think) on his sportbike) sees me in my gear, comments on how I’m wearing “the full jump suit.” I go, “Yeah.” He goes, “It’s going to be 100 out today.” I go, “Yeah.” I listen to him continue his banter, jibes, etc, then just go, “You know, you look like a jackass riding without gear.” He stops what he’s saying, pauses a half second, then without missing a beat other than that one goes, “You look like a jackass riding WITH gear.” I go, “OK, I’m glad we aired that out.”

    Feel free to pick your side in the above exchange :).

    * I must say – PROPS to Mr. Eats-Hyphen for what he’s done with CityBike.

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  27. Norm G. says:

    i think the “fashion factor” regarding helmet use is definitely in play here. very little to do with freedom or rights from my long-term observations. they say “freedom”, but that’s just something people hide behind. this applies to both the cruiser set as well as the sportriding set. helmets AREN’T worn by the cruisers… why…? because it’s fashionable. helmets ARE worn by the sportriders… why…? because it’s fashionable. whether they like some manner of cool repli-racer graphics…? or the german bottle-caps in chrome with goggles to match their chromed and stretched swingarms…? the motivation is the same… VANITY. the same goes for the bicyclists who all wear the “aero flow” helmets now, the compression suits, and special shoes you can’t walk in because they only clip into pedals, etc. etc. again, most just want to “LOOK” like armstrong training for the tour-de-france. honestly, how people ride without helmets or even open face is beyond me. i took a grasshopper, locust, cicada, or some friggin’ thing…? to the chest the other week at only 40-50mph on a side road and it felt like a rock. i can only imagine if i were on the interstate at 60-70, or it struck me in the face. hey, if you can ride without…? then you’re better man than me. ’cause i can’t do it. i’ve tried and it freaks me out.

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  28. Tanya says:

    That should be a choice…… Headless horseman or not????? Choice!!!!! The accidents happen more with CARS than just the bike. Let the people choose.

    Report this comment

  29. marsjo says:

    Sorry, I have no sympathy for the non-helmet crowd whatever you rationale is, whether it be a freedom to be foolish and love the feel of the wind, or it’s too damn hot in a full face. For heat I find that wetting the head scarf before I put the helmet on works great once I’m on the move. Certainly, at stop lights I flip up the faceshield as on a hot day it does get stuffy in there quickly, but as soon as I’m moving again a quick reach and I’ve got the shield down in half a sec. I love my full face helmet and even though I could wear a half helmet I don’t just because of stones and when I hear those large hard shell june bugs ding my helmet and almost make the thing ring I’m really glad I’m wearing it. It also amazes me how much less numb my ear drums are after a ride with a full face and now I wear MP3 player ear buds underneath and not only get less roar and whistle but get to listen to great music as well. Don’t underestimate how much hearing loss you can experience with no helmet or a shortie helmet.

    I really like the armored jacket and pants too although I’ll admit on local warm weather rides I don’t wear the pants but that’s only because I haven’t gotten the kevlar lined jeans but they’re on my shopping list. I ride a lot, and think good gear has made me able to ride earlier and later than most riders and I live within 50 miles of the Canadian border. I usually dig the bike out in early March and try to ride until the first week of Dec and you can only do that if you’ve got the good gear. But as a Northerner I’ve put 28,000 miles on my 2008 motorcycle in three years.

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  30. Morgan says:

    dress for the crash not the ride

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  31. Dannytheman says:

    I live in Pennsylvania, have ridden 260,000 miles on various bikes and wear a helmet when my ears get cold. Other than that I am lid free. My head, my insurance, my choice. I am not attempting to look cool, I am cool, as in temperature. It gets hot as crap in a helmet around Philly in June, July and August. Temps in the high 90′s and humidity that makes it feel like you are swimming instead of riding. I don’t wear a helmet because they are hot as what I consider Hell to be.
    It would be statistically better if we all wore a helmet in a car too, wouldn’t it? I mean race drivers are required to do it. If I have to, so should people in cages.

    Report this comment

    • Davis says:

      Don’t expect this to support your argument: “It would be statistically better if we all wore a helmet in a car too, wouldn’t it? I mean race drivers are required to do it. If I have to, so should people in cages.” Your logic is flawed logic in this line of thinking. Maybe if you compared to a convertible it might work!

      BTW, I have over 40 years riding experience and always wear a helmet. If I had not, I would not be alive.

      Report this comment

      • Dannytheman says:

        I am not looking to support any argument, I am not arguing! My statement stands, statistically speaking, people would be safer wearing helmets in cars.
        As I have said to others, I support your choice to wear your helmet! I have more than 40 years riding experience and have NEVER needed one! Thanks for your feedback!

        Report this comment

        • Maxified says:

          You mean you never needed a helmet YET!

          Report this comment

        • Davis says:

          Danny, I don’t really care whether one wears a helmet or not, especially since you appear to be financially responsible.

          I still say that your “argument” is flawed due to an apples to oranges comparison. Yes, statistically speaking I’m sure you are correct about wearing a helmet in your car, but you would also be safer not driving at all (which we could say about participating in any “thrilling” activity).

          And I believe you are participating in this “argument”, discussion, consultation…. by participating in the thread.

          Sounds like we might be the same vintage with similar time in the saddle but with different experience. Forget about the crashing, I have been hit by any number of objects (pebbles, rocks, insects, cig. butts, etc.) over the years on my bike and any time it has hit bare skin it hurts. And yes, I own bikes with fairings. Can’t imagine taking all those hits to the face that have hit my helmets over the years.

          Ride on, be safe.

          Report this comment

          • Dannytheman says:

            Let’s agree to say we are debating differences? I know I would buy each guy in this forum a beer! I only state my beliefs, flawed to your ears though they might be.

            OK, taking NOT driving out of the equation.
            Many more people die in CAR accidents.Acknowledging fully that there are more cars and more car mileage. What do you think would happen if the States decided to mandate helmets for driving in a car? Mathematically speaking we could save MORE lives, am I right?
            Would not air bags, seat belts and helmets save more lives than worrying about motorcycles deaths? Yes it would, but we all know that We The People would have an uprising if government mandated helmet use in cars. It’s the truth. Don’t tread on me.

            Report this comment

          • falcodoug says:

            I have been hit many times in the helmet and many a close calls by items that would not have a caused good outcome if not wearing one. I all use an electric test meter to check for high voltage.

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    • Bob says:

      I’m from Philly (Kensington X Allegheny) plus Hatfield and still regulary visit (I’ll be there in August) as I now live in Houston, TX. I can say without question that we have higher heat and humidity than you do. I have never gotten used to the Texas heat. Infernal IMO.

      What I’ve discovered since living here is that I regluate my body temperature better by being covered up. I always wear long sleeves, long pants and I have a goofy hat that covers my neck when working outside. No sunburn, my sweat is wicked away and my body temperature stays consistent because the clothes do not allow the atmosphere to excessively heat me up through my skin surface. It’s basically an insulating layer.

      I was a member of HOG many years ago as a safety officer. On many rides we had people overheating badly, wearing tank tops and no lids. They were beet red from their capilaries trying to reach out to the surface of their skin to try and cool off. That’s what blood vessels do when your core temperature is too high. Having 105 degree heat blow over your body at 70 mph will increase your core temperature much faster than if you were standing still. Every time, I was in my helmet, jacket, race boots and gloves and sometimes riding pants. I was always hot, because it’s 105, but I was regulated and somewhat comfortable, not overheated like everyone else. They just didn’t get the concept.

      Report this comment

      • Dannytheman says:

        Been to Houston and you win!! It is nasty hot there. I rode from Tomball, Texas to Dallas, Texas and it was 106 to 102 in temps. All this I did while wearing a light full sleeved jacket, jeans and boots. I have many ways to cool down, I drink water the whole ride, I wear a vest that is soak=ed in cool water and drys as I ride. But I meet all the criteria to not wear a lid in Texas so I do not! I have taken the PAMSF course 8 times for Experienced rider, I have the insurance and the experience they require. Past many a state cop on the route, they were running AC and probably didn’t want to bother a PA licensed biker with Veteran tags. Rt 45 runs at 80 MPH and it was a quick 3.5 hour run up to there.
        I will concede to you the heat index was in your favor, but I am glad I could be lid free there. Texas gets it when it comes to Freedom!

        Report this comment

    • kpaul says:

      Danny you are playing with fire. Been to Philly last month. You are right it is hot as hell. However, if you bought a very good helmet you would actually feel cooler. I know first hand. See the HOG poster from Texas comments

      Report this comment

  32. Scorch says:

    Serious riders always wear helmets. Simple as that.

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  33. JC says:

    I was involved in a serious accident with a construction truck 4 years ago, in California. I was wearing my helmet, my riding jacket, riding pants and… a pair of tenis shoes. The result: BK amputation of my right leg.
    My riding gear saved my life. It gives me the creeps every time I see somebody riding here in Texas with bermuda shorts, flip flops and, of course, no helmet.
    I would like to talk to every one of them, but it’s useless: they won’t listen.
    And yes, I’m still riding, on my DN-01.

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  34. Jim says:

    Seems like the best poster to get past the vain and relatively stupid practice of not wearing a helmet .. would be a poster comprised of about 24 scarred helmets such as you used in your opinion statement. Any of you remember the old helmet ad by Bell…
    Do you have a $10 head or a $100 head?

    I have “scarred up 4 helmets in my mc riding life of 58yrs riding. Funny how that happens, seems all were unplanned helmet tests ;-))

    Report this comment

    • Jimmy Whitten says:

      If you know a lot about riding, then you know that most riders use their rear brake for stopping, causing a highside. Teach them the proper way to control their bikes at speed could save more lives.
      63 years old and I love to ride Sportbikes, R6Jimmy

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  35. Steve says:

    Yes we should wear Helmets for these reasons:
    1) When riders choose to not wear helmets and have any accident. That cost me more money, whether it be in insurance cost or government cost.
    2) When a rider, without a helmet, splatters his brains all over the road I do not want my children to see that.
    3) Do really need to give the non-riding public another reason to hate motorcyclist? I’m sick and tired of hearing how motorcycles are dangerous because they knew someone who died on a bike. I know someone who died in a Mustang, so the FORD MUSTANG is dangerous, right? I know someone who died in an airplane, so airplanes are dangerous, right? If we all worried about what will kill us, then stay home in your little bubble. But at the same time don’t take your risk taking to a level that’s stupid, like not wearing a helmet, pulling a wheelie at 80mph on the interstate to show off and wreck, or racing thru traffic. Dude that’s what they make TRACK DAYS FOR dumb@$$.
    Reasons not to wear a helmet:
    1) Population control and if you believe Darwin, increasing our species evolution chances.
    2) To lower unemployment with the increase in EMTs and Police.
    3) You look cooler on youtube with no helmet when you do something stupid on a bike.

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    • Dannytheman says:

      “1) When riders choose to not wear helmets and have any accident. That cost me more money, whether it be in insurance cost or government cost.”
      Prove it!
      2) When a rider, without a helmet, splatters his brains all over the road I do not want my children to see that.
      You would stop and show your children??
      #3 happens regardless!!!

      “1) Population control and if you believe Darwin, increasing our species evolution chances.”
      Clever, so you want me to die? Kill the dumb folks.
      “2) To lower unemployment with the increase in EMTs and Police.”
      Uhhuh!!
      “3) You look cooler on youtube with no helmet when you do something stupid on a bike.
      Like people with a helmet never do anything stupid? Pleaseeeeee….

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  36. SnyRichard says:

    The pirate cruiser crowd doesn’t want to wear helmets because in their minds they think that they look cooler without one and also sound cooler with loud pipes . The repli-racer crowd in favor of no helmets are just young and dumb , possibly borderline suicidal in some cases . Count me out of BOTH of those two extremes !

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  37. Bob says:

    Re: skydivng and mountain climbing examples being dangerous

    Guess what? I did both for many years and safely. Guess what else? I wore protective gear too.

    The difference between mountain climbing/sky diving and riding a motorcycle is that riding a motorcycle is a government regulated event, just like driving a car. Your “right” to pilot a motorized vehicles has conditions upon it you must adhere to or otherwise your “right” to drive/ride can be revoked. So, yes, the government has the right to impose a hemet law if they want to. They did it with seatbelts.

    One reason they have the right to impose laws like this is that by providing a network for transportation (public roads) they are responsible for also providing a safe means for everyone that uses it (traffic laws) and also dictating that vehicles be constructed for safe operation (DOT regulations). Consider a helmet the car roof that your motorcycle didn’t come with.

    If you can think of safety beyond a single person’s abilities and think of it as everyone on the road’s actions combined and simulataneously potentially effecting everyone else around you, then you can understand why these regulations were created in the first place. Otherwise a free for all on the road would surely result in a tremendous amount of deaths and serious injuries.

    If the government could find a way to justify the taxation of participation in the climbing of mountains or jumping out of planes, they would not just tax it but they would also regulate it with rules (laws).

    This is why other things like cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption are legal even though they are proven bad for you health (raising insurance rates/increased risk of drunk drivers on the road). The government knows that if they apply a sin tax to these things, they can make a crapload of money. Money is their bottom line, not our health and well being. If it was, cigs and scotch would be considered contraband.

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    • shane says:

      I would add that the comparison between motorcycling and skydiving is tenuous at best. Many of ride a use motorcycles as a practical means of conveyance, not simply as recreation. With the exception of the Special Forces I don’t think too many people skydive to get to work.

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  38. shane says:

    The whole anti-helmet law rhetoric just reminds me of a bratty child saying ‘No, you can’t make me wear a helmet!!’. How is wearing a helmet limiting anyone’s freedom to ride their motorcycle? If you want the choice to be stupid do you support legalizing heroin? How about allowing someone to ride their bicycle on the superhighway?

    The biggest threat to motorcycling in this country is not helmet laws, fewer states than ever require them. Loud pipes, on the other hand, those antagonize people more than anything else and are what will get bikes outlawed.

    I’ve been riding for 28 years, over 100,000 miles in the last fifteen years. I’ve never felt under the thumb of a tyrannical government because of helmet laws. The government is right to require a minimum of safety gear, like safety glass windshields on cars. Is that a sign of government run amuck? Of course not. But with a motorcycle the safety gear goes on the rider, not the vehicle.

    Helmet laws are not the slippery slope, people need to stop such absolutists about this. And maybe, just maybe, if motorcyclists stop dying in such numbers the general public will stop automatically brand motorcycling as a death-wish activity.

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  39. Luke E says:

    On a sweltering day last summer I was gearing up for a ride in front of my house. Boots, leather jacket, leather gloves, helmet. A neighbor walked by and asked “Do you HAVE to wear all that stuff?” to which I replied “I CHOOSE to wear all this stuff.” End of conversation.

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  40. Gene says:

    A reason that I have never heard about why helmets should be mandatory. Crash with a helmet and you most likely can get up, move your bike off the road, and traffic can continue. Crash without a helmet, that maybe leaves you unconscious or worse on the road, and I, and everyone else on the road, are stuck in a huge traffic jam while the helicopter air lifts you away. When it is said that helmets only affect the rider, think again.

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  41. roughcut says:

    I like the idea of having a choice. Do you wear your seat belt? if so WHY, because you are told to by the law or because it makes sense to be safe just in case. Think about it. Everyone is worried about being safe in a car that has 4 wheels for stability, is a metal and plastic cage engineered to withstand impact and displace it on contact. But everyone wants the freedom to not wear a helmet on a motorcycle that is designed with very different ideas. The silly causes that people pursue never fail to amaze me.

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  42. PN says:

    On a good website, now no longer what it was, called Great Old Bikes, the best answer why males don’t wear helmets is this: human vanity. They ride without helmet because they want to attract females. Stupid, yes, but I’m afraid true.

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    • Bob says:

      I ride without pants to attract females.

      But I always wear my helmet.

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      • Roadrash1 says:

        I an afraid if I rode without pants, my lilly-white Irish arse would scare women, men, children and some pets.

        Wearing my mirrored day shield on my fullface helmet seems like a fun bit of “who’s that guy?” But, I am a gear freak. I wear my bright yellow Roadcrafter until it gets really warm, then I switch to ventilated gear with pads underneath.

        I have friends that have switched to cruisers, and for some reason, they dropped the protective gear. One guy even told me he no longer owns rain gear because it, “Just doesn’t look cool.”

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  43. Art says:

    Everyone should be free to ride without if they so desire – just so I don’t have to help pay their medical costs afterwards (or support their families because they were incredibly stupid).

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    • Dannytheman says:

      Wife stands to make $500,000 insurance policy and my riders insurance is all paid up! Got you covered! But thanks for your concern!

      Report this comment

      • Maxified says:

        It is the insurance policy holders that will have to make up the difference for the insurance company to pay out the benefits you mention and the taxpayers will still be footing the bill for the emergency response.

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      • JR says:

        It’s not all about you, Dan THE Man. I checked your blog. You just posted a hack job about statistics. The statistics of helmet use don’t lie.

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        • Dannytheman says:

          Feel free to send me your stats. I am sure I can hack job anything you feel to send, I am in marketing. :) As I said in my blog, these were my findings based on 100 accidents I have investigated as the Safety Officer of multiple HOG groups. I also say that the numbers skew as more bikes are included. And why are you so combative? About me? I am the only poster on this site that does not wear a helmet and has a different opinion. I also openly say that I do not criticize those who want to wear them! Thanks for reading my blog, I guess you see I do wear a helmet when I ride in the snow.

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  44. falcodoug says:

    Gabe, I am with you on this one. Crashed just once in 78 (before CA helmet laws)and have been wearing a full face and gear ever since. Yes, we don’t need laws for many things but I know people that have crashed without a helmet and wish they had one on. Once in the air it is too late.

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  45. Todd says:

    I’ve been riding for 15 years. Commute every day by bike. I’ve ridden maybe 3 times without a helmet. I find it incredibly uncomfortable to be at speed without one. I hate getting hit in the face with debris and bugs, it’s too hot without a lid in the summer (I’m follicle challenged), and most of all, I’ve grown incredibly fond of feeding myself. Having seen first hand what a wired up jaw does for your cuisine choices, I’m never riding without a full face again.

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