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American Motorcyclist Association supports senator’s stand on helmets

This is a press release MD received from the AMA:

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) praised U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) for standing up against a proposal that would have indirectly forced states to pass mandatory helmet laws.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was poised to introduce the proposal on Dec. 14 during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on S. 1449 — the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011. His proposal was an amendment to S. 1449, but he decided against offering it in the committee.

In a statement for the record, Ayotte noted that the amendment would take away the right of the people in a state to decide whether to have a mandatory helmet law “by indirectly forcing all states to pass mandatory universal helmet laws in order to receive funding for motorcycle safety.

“States without mandatory universal helmet laws — such as New Hampshire — would be subject to stricter eligibility criteria, and would be forced to use 50 percent of their grant funds to promote helmet use,” she said.

“This amendment violates the original intent of the motorcyclist safety grant program, which has traditionally focused on encouraging states to fund motorcycle safety awareness, education and training,” she said. “This amendment would divert funds away from awareness and education and, instead, use them to place federal pressure on states to enact mandatory universal helmet laws.”

Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, thanked Ayotte for her statement, noting the AMA also opposed the Lautenberg amendment.

“Federal efforts should focus on preventing crashes rather than mandating what gear riders should wear,” Allard said.

Besides opposing the Lautenberg amendment, the AMA has been working on Capitol Hill to try to ensure that motorcycle-only checkpoints don’t proliferate around the nation, and working to ensure that motorcyclists’ concerns about possible engine damage are considered before federal officials approve the use of higher ethanol-gasoline blends for motorcycles.

“We need the help of all riders,” Allard said. “More AMA members means more political clout, from the statehouse to the White House. We urge motorcyclists to join the AMA to help protect motorcycling now and in the future.”

To join, go to


  1. John Cali says:

    Fighting against compulsory helmet use is one of the reasons I don’t belong to the AMA.

  2. Jim says:

    Just the reason that I don’t belong to AMA anymore…….

  3. Reinhart says:

    My skull was tested to Snell/DOT standards and unfortunately didn’t pass. Perhaps your skull is harder? If so, don’t bother with a helmet because your head can surely pass any government standard, including bouncing it off a curb @ 60 mph (you’re so lucky!)

  4. Sofa King says:

    ware a hemet.I no ware hemet and hurd hed bad.I wus raod king.I rid vreydai wit my bros to bar.rid hard fast good.hang wit bros n hos all day and beer.ride hume one eie close balunce balunc eexpert .then hid car bad.Now i m sofa king sit al day un sofa.Sofa king stupid tu no ware hemrt.

  5. paulysr says:

    I’m actually with the AMA on this one. Spend the money that’s available on education where it will do the most good. I’ve tried on some of the “helmets” that people wear when they’re required to wear a helmet, what a joke. If new riders learn the benefit of quality protectve gear, and not to ride under the influence, I think they’ll be better off than riders who don’t know anything but wear the worst helmet money can buy. In my opinion, part of new rider education should involve interacting with someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

  6. Teflon Tufty says:

    As an ‘outsider’ (as in I don’t live in the States) on the issue of whether people should or shouldn’t wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, here’s my 10c worth…

    Here where I live it’s been compulsory by law to wear a ‘crash-helmet’ ‘skid-lid’ ‘brain-bucket’ or whatever else you want to call it. I don’t like being told what to do any more than anyone but, I have an experience I want to share;

    One night back in ’82 I was out with a few mates ‘on-the-lash’ out drinking from pub to pub with the carelessness of youth – We’ve all done it, hey 😉

    Riding back home we got tagged by a couple of cop-cars, I could hardly see the clocks in front of me, let alone the road ahead – Long and short of it I crashed my bike at 85mph being chased, NOT clever! The cop that picked me up told me that my helmet was trashed – This was, back 30 years ago, a $300 helmet in money back then!

    I walked away from that smash with my head still in-tact (okies, I had other ‘issues’ I had to deal with legally) – But, the point is – As much as freedom-of-speech and freedom-of-will should always be important, sometimes, just sometimes, laws are there to protect us – That’s democracy…

    • Dannytheman says:

      Sorry you went down. Better skills and rider education and you would have avoided this dreadful situation!
      Laws are there to control/regulate us.

      • bikerrandy says:

        Danny, you’re an idiot if you actually believe you can always overcome a possible MC accident. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control.

      • Dannytheman says:

        Another country heard from!! I have successfully avoiding dieing all these 55 years! I ride all the time, and I am safer than most! I find riding education and riding skills and awareness help quite a lot!
        But you are right, I must be an idiot. Which is why I have 2 bikes, 2 homes, 2 trucks, and 4 kids. Only 1 wife though!! I just got done submitting my mileage to my club for the 2011 year. 22,765. (I will come in 4th too)

        • bikerrandy says:

          I’m 68 and have been riding all over for 48 years. Some times sh$t happens. In have 1 paid for home, 1 car, 1 toy hauler, 4 bikes and 4 scooters. I’ve ridden in all kinds of weather. My helmets have saved my bacon more than once. In my youth I used to amateur road race too.

  7. zore says:

    If you haven’t tried a mesh jacket, then you really don’t know what you’re missing. Protection + staying cool is all win. I spent 3 hours a day riding in 90 to 105 degree weather with high humidity. Humidity matters more than temp. Just an FYI, and I dont want to jinks you, but with it’s if you will have a crash, but when. You’ve just been lucky.

    I went 20 years with out an incident and then hit 2 deer with in 2 years.

    • zore says:

      This was supposed to be in response to Dannythemans post. Oops.

    • Dannytheman says:

      Thanks man, yes I have a mesh jacket. Tried it in New Mexico.

      Worked well for first 2 hours, but could not take it after noon and traffic. Kick stand down, rolled it up and placed in bags!
      I have used it here at home! 12 hours straight of over 100 degrees, is slightly different!

      • Dannytheman says:

        I hit a deer 4 years ago. Took out my fairing and front end. But I rode it out. It was only about 170 pounds and I carried it 200+ feet. Didn’t go down though, so very lucky. Since it was in November I had the warmest hat I won on then, to be honest! So I have been there. (She was tasty though, I think I have some sausage still in the freezer from her)

        But I am a lucky guy! Hope your impact turned out as well!!

        • bikerrandy says:

          Finally I meet another biker who has hit a deer w/o crashing. In my cases, I’ve hit 2 deer w/o stopping. Had a helmet on but this never mattered as far as the accidents.

          Both deer crossed the road from my left. I momentarily saw them and it was like hitting deep water all of a sudden. The 1st time I stood up and looked at the front tire to see if all was OK. It was. I just kept on riding. The 2nd time I had a witness rider behind me. Again the deer came from my left side. After the collision I looked over and saw the deer laying on it’s right side, legs kicking. It got up and kept running. Both times I hit the deer in their right thigh, knocking them off balance. Both times it was mid day in Calif., then Wash. St.

        • zore says:

          The deer I hit I split in half. The second deer hit me in the rear and knocked me over. It’s why I hit the ground so hard and breaking some bones. No road rash however as I always wear a full gear.

  8. shane says:

    I don’t understand what freedoms are being taken away by having to wear a helmet. The freedom to catch rocks in your face? The freedom to brain damage? Seriously, how does a piece of safety gear limit you?

    • Dannytheman says:

      There is not much I can say to your response! If you can’t get that some people don’t want the government nannys legislating our choices then it is hopeless for me to explain it to you. I respect your choice to wear a helmet. Now leave me alone, so I can, as a free man, make my own choice. I have a windshield, I wear glasses. Have you ever ridden in traffic on I-10 out of Houston, Texas?? A helmet quickly becomes a Dutch oven in heat above 100 degrees.

      Would it not be safer if everyone wore a helmet in a car? Don’t more people die in car crashes, since there are more cars?
      Let’s start making people wear helmets in cars. It would be safer, right? They have air conditioning in the car at least.
      What other safety issues would you allow the government to legislate for you? Maybe no fireplaces in your home? Well you could have one, but couldn’t light it, unless you use government approved matches?!?!

      • shane says:

        You can’t answer because your don’t have and answer other than ‘because!’. And yes, I’ve ridden I-10 in summer. I’ve ridden through Joshua Tree in my full face and Roadcrafter in 114 degrees. I always wear my gear and have ridden cross country many times and have lived in extremely hot and humid conditions.

        My question was only about motorcycle helmets. Not about anything else. You have no answer.

        • NJ Steve says:

          There are many reasons other than because….

          1. We do not need some 92 year old almost dead senator from NJ who has never ridden a bike & is “in the pocket” of the lobbyists mandating what I wear when I ride.

          2. There is “NO” (=ZERO) data that the govt or anyone else here has shown to validate their outrageous claim that the taxpayers are carrying some huge burden ($$) to provide medical care to uninsured/helmetless riders.

          3. There is also no DATA to show the costs for riders like you that wreck Shane.. that wear full roadcrafter suits & AGATT.

          The issue is too little or no healthcare insurance to pay for a riders medical costs when they are hurt… helmeted or not.

          Let me ask you this…if you are so sure that riding a motorcycle is so dangerous & risky that you feel the need to wear the suit & AGATT… then why don’t you do the same when you drive your car or ride your Mt Bike, or walk your dog…. you read every day where someone walking their dog got killed while walking down the sidewalk.

          You don’t wear the suit or AGATT driving the car because
          1. the govt hasn’t gotten around to mandating that yet (give LAutenberg time, he may live forever)
          2. you have been conditioned (told by the media & govt) that you are safe enough in the car

          Basically, I agree that wearing a helmet is preferable for me. But I also have $750k in accident insurance, another $400k in life insurance & good medical insurance so I can ride naked & get my head smashed & no one will pay a dime extra.

          The govt ALWAYS has another motive…. there have been a number of times in the recent past when the govt tried to ban motorcycles …for being too fast or for other reasons…

          You will ONLY have yourself to thank when this eventually occurs.

          You see Shane…the Govt doesn’t care 1 bit that you like to ride. They also don’t care what you wear or don’t wear when riding either. The govt is there to restrict our freedoms & then tell us it’s good for us & that we are too stupid.

          there’s a lot of talk in DC that they are already planning on doing this to everyone’s 401k accounts… the Govt is going to confiscate all of the money & accounts & oversee them for us… cause we’re too stupid to know how to invest, etc…. & give you back the money when you retire (yeah… funny.. the govt giving us back our own money)

          No thanks!

          • Dannytheman says:

            Yeah, what he said.. NJ Steve get’s it. And he lives in the Peoples Republic of New Jersey!!
            Freedom to NOT wear a helmet, to wear flip flops, to wear shorts and do stupid things. Because you do not like it, or think it smart, YOU should have no say in my choices of how I live my life! That is what freedom is.

            Get a clue!!

  9. spikedlemon says:

    Proper riding attire is education.

    A helmet, IMHO, is proper riding attire. As are gloves, boots, pants and a jacket (not: flip-flops, t-shirt, shorts and a backwards baseball hat)

    • Dannytheman says:

      I have been educated. I took the Experienced Motorcycle course 7 times so far! I wear boots, gloves, and jeans. But do not always wear a jacket and long sleeves. Again, I ask people how many hours they have ridden in the deep south or south east at temps nearing 100 to 110 after 9 AM. (Please do not preach the proof that a jackets is cooler in these riding conditions, I have real experience as my proof) A damp rag, worn around a neck, dries in less than 20 minutes at 80 MPH, it’s a shame we had 1 hour and 40 minutes to go to next fuel stop!

  10. vitesse says:

    It’s not only moronic, but oxymoronic that States would accept motorcycle “safety awareness” block grants while at the same time refuse to promote mandatory helmet laws. It’s well settled that the one thing that has the greatest impact on preventing serious injury is wearing a qualified helmet.

    No State should receive Federal funds unless they pass helmet laws and, I might add, strictly enforce them.

    Yes, we do have to save people from themselves. They’ll thank us when they grow up.

  11. Steve says:

    zore: That’s find but then let’s also do it for smokers, cell phone drivers, competency and on and on…

    • zore says:

      I’m not sure how smoking on a motorcycle has anything to do with this. All kidding aside, smokers already pay higher medical insurance and life insurance premiums.

      While not having spent my morning googling for statistics, I would think that the chances of sustaining life threatening injuries while riding a motorcycle without a helmet is higher than any of the other activities mentioned. I for one know of more people who have died in motorcycle accidents than car accidents. It’s sad but New Jersey had to pass a law that said you couldn’t leave your kid in the car on a 100 degree day while you go shopping. Having kids of my own, I can’t see doing that, but evidently, there are some people who just aren’t that bright so another nanny law makes it on the books.

      The way I see it, if you ride without a helmet, you aren’t too bright. If you drive with a cell phone glued to your ear, I’d like for you to be shot on site (this is a huge pet peeve of mine along with parking your Dodge minivan in the left lane of a 3 lane highway doing 5 under the speed limit). If you ride a motorcycle without a helmet while smoking and talking on a cell phone, you’re the man.

  12. Gummee! says:

    I’ll trade a nationwide helmet law for a nationwide lane sharing/splitting law any day and twice on Sunday.

    Till the AMA gets on board with getting ALL of us lane sharing, I’m out.


    • bikerrandy says:

      Yeah, let the idiots take themselves out w/no helmets on.

      Nationwide lane splitting is far more important. When I’m not riding in Calif. and get into heavy stop & go traffic, I lane split. Sure locals honk their horns and flip me the bone, but I’m not going to sit there and burn up my MC motor just because of a stupid law. If someone wants to give me a ticket, they’re going to have to catch me.

  13. Dannytheman says:

    Wear a helmet, don’t wear a helmet. Carry a gun, don’t carry a gun. Freedom gives you options. NJ is a nanny state of the highest level, and has the highest taxes because of it. I do not want the government to tell me what to individually do. I am insured, I am safe, and I am free. I ride 20,000 miles a year, over 300,000 miles on bikes and more than 3/4’s of that time I am lid free. Don’t tread on me. For you folks on the other side of the pond, this was why we revolted, to get away from your overzealous rulers. Helmets laws are becoming more lax, same as gun regulations. Some of you quote Darwin laws as if losing any biker is ever funny? You are the true elitist, ignoramus in this circle of riders.
    I will never stop you from wearing a helmet, I value your choice. I respect your choice to choose. It is about choice!
    For us United States citizens? F R E E D O M !! We have lost some, let’s get it back!

  14. zore says:

    Having had the opportunity to test some of the finest cranial safety gear the Korean and Japanese have to offer, twice, I’m pretty sure helmets are as mandatory as gas and oil. While I can see the point of view of both sides as not being a fan of nanny legislation, I believe the easy fix is to have those that choose to ride without a helmet pay more for insurance. That extra paid could go into a fund that would help pay for the “social burden” of those who have chosen poorly with regard to what safety gear they feel is needed.

    Another way to look at it is, it makes those who wear helmets feel better about themselves as we can look at the helmetless and say to ourselves, “I’m smarter than you”.

  15. dino says:

    I am in favor of all riders wearing good helmets, but strongly against any helmet law. On one hand, lawmakers suck at writing laws. They are full of loopholes, and generally cause more trouble than they fix (look how many years it took to fix the Child Safety Lead law).
    Second, I have ridden with guys through helmet states. They put on this thing which has a DOT stamp on it, barely covered half the head, and the idiot scooped all the padding out becuase “it was too hot”. Who was helped by that helmet law?

  16. Francois says:

    You Americans are idiots!!! it is suicide to ride without protection, whether it is your choice or not. Helmets saves lives, that is a fact. I read an argument somewhere from an idiotic Yank that this certain person would rather be dead that be a vegetable and that is why he/she does not wear a helmet. Horse raddish and crap. You have a better chance to ge a veg without a helmet.

    I’ve been wearing helmets all my life and they are so comfortable and light nowadays, you are hardly aware of it.

    Freedom is not a right to do as you like, but the right to be responsible. Please grow up. And if it takes the law to force you to not be stupid or an idiot, so be it!!!

    • al banta says:

      Wellsaid, we are idiots! There is no valid reason not to wear one very time all the time!

    • zore says:

      Thanks for the self-righteous pep talk. I’m sure every idiot American is going to run out and buy a helmet now.

    • Dannytheman says:

      When is my day then? I have over 300,000 miles on bikes and only wear a helmet when it is extremely cold. Warmest hat I have.
      Please provide your helmet facts, I have facts that show after 14 MPH, or 20 KPH, a helmet only allows your mother to have an open casket! Lies will never work!

      How often do you drive 20 KPH and fall? I am betting many!

      • zore says:

        You fail at physics. It’s not the speed you’re going, it’s the distance your head travels to the ground that does the damage. The last deer (yes deer hate me) I hit, I hit the ground hard enough to break a collar bone and knock me out. I couldn’t wipe my own rear for 2 weeks but had I not had a helmet on, i’d probably be dead.

        You can ride 600000 miles with out ever having an incident, but that 600001 mile could be the life changer.

      • shane says:

        Wow, I guess I’m not really alive after having a high side at 50 mph and walking away from it. Or from another 50 mph and a 20 mph crash which gouged a lovely groove right out of the top of my helmet. You do know that facts are things that has been tested and can be proven, not just things you like to believe, right?

    • Ken Elliott says:

      Francois said: “You Americans are idiots!!”

      You mean “Those Americans are idiots!!”

      You’ve got idiots where you live, too – right? Well, we’ve got them too.

  17. Kjazz says:

    As passionate as I am about everyone wearing adequate protection, I could at least accept that beginning riders (whether 16 years old or 66 years old) be required to wear protective gear for the first 5 years of motorcycle riding. By then, hopefully some good habits will be instilled and some insights gained about how important these simple measures are toward ensuring personal safety.

    And for crying out loud, helmet laws do not make America any less FREE!!!!

    Seriously, should we be “free” to chose and fly an airline that only has to make physical inspections of their aircraft once every 10 years….? Should we be free to purchase food that has not been subjected to current knowledge and science regarding reduction of bacteria or other harmful contaminants….?

  18. j_cott says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point on this:
    Only HALF of this is about mandatory helmet laws.

    The other significant half is about taking money AWAY from RIDER EDUCATION.

    huh. So, the AMA is opposing a bill that takes money away from Rider Education. You are all right – that seems like something the AMA should ignore…

  19. Bill says:

    I think our government should not spend one penny on this (motorcyclist safety grant program) and so many other things. Legislative idiots in the District should restrict themselves to protecting the country and VERY few other things (see the US Constitution). Idiot Lautenberg should have stayed retired instead of being resurrected by the NJ Dems (illegally) when their chosen guy, Bob Torricelli got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. What a joke our government is. Unfortunately, we have given them the power to delve this deeply into our lives. Shame on us.

  20. Ron Machaj says:

    To those of you who use the “social burden” theory (society should not have to pay an individual’s risky behavior, ie, not wearing a helmet) as your justification for supporting helmet laws, I ask, So where do you draw the line? If it’s a matter of societal expense, then let the government dictate what we eat and how many hour we sleep. Coronary disease related health costs to society far exceed, and apply to so many more people, than motorcycle related head injury costs and are just as preventable. Are you willing to accept that? Not me.

    • j_cott says:

      agreed! Government should also probably regulate other risky behaviors to save us from ourselves – like cigarettes, alcohol (oh, already tried that one, and it worked really well…), sex (STD’s of course!), TV, computers, internet (sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy, and leads to increased healthcare costs), cell phones (distracted driving, possible brain tumors), anything made from plastic or containing lead (there go motorcycles and cars, in addition to virtually every other modern product in our day to day world), bicyles (could fall over and get injured), knives, fire, water…

    • NJ Steve says:

      I agree but it’s almost becoming too late to stop the culture/behavior police from directing every facet of our lives.

      As with all Govt/politician driven mandates, they are NEVER about what the Pols want us to believe. An example is Ethanol (corn) subsidies …. they want you to believe it’s better for the environment when in reality, it uses more energy to produce the ethanol. Also..thus stuff ruins your engine, makes cars & bikes more expensive & makes the price of corn artificially high further effecting the economy, etc…

      & WHY do the Pols come up with this stuff…. VOTES & MONEY! The Only 2 reasons they do anything. The Pols don’t give a sh*t about any of us. If they did, then where’s my soocial security lock box??

  21. 40yrRider says:

    I really don’t agree with the AMA on this one. In this day of wrangling over healthcare being universal or not we have to look at the potential ramifications of helmetless riders.

    We all pay for healthcare regardless of those who want to skew the picture as an individual choice. By that I mean those who cannot afford health insurance or are underinsured are more likely to put off preventative care due to cost. By doing so many health problems inevitably will worsen. At this point, when it becomes acute, what will they do? Die? Would you? Not likely. So this health issue, now acute, means a trip to the emergency department. HIPPA law says everyone presenting at a hospital MUST be stabilized. From there they can be moved to a another facility or sent home but they must be stabilized.

    My point is that if a rider with no insurance presents at an ER with a fractured skull from impacting the side of a car, curb, whatever (actor/musician Gary Busey for example) the treatment for stabilizing this type of trauma is VERY expensive. In many cases the skull needs to be opened to relieve pressure (edema is what kills brain tissue) then the patient must be observed for days to make sure there is not permanent damage to the brain. In more than a few cases the damage is permanently debilitating requiring years of therapy to mitigate. Who will pay for this uninsured patient? We all do. The hospital must eat the cost of this patient’s service but they wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t pass on the costs somehow. It will be passed on in higher insurance costs further escalating the catch-22 that is our healthcare system today.

    So, for the AMA to support the concept that “helmets are a personal choice” is to support the present unsustainable healthcare system.

    For those arguing that it’s a slippery slope to outlawing motorcycles my argument is why aren’t cars outlawed? More people die in cars don’t they? Yet seat belts are mandated, airbags are mandated and so on. It is a relativist fallacy where those claiming their rights are being violated present the argument that others aren’t effected by their not wearing helmets when, in fact, it effects all of us.

    I am all for personal freedom and responsibility but not when I end up paying for your error in judgement. In this case AMA = fail.

    • Tim says:

      Very well said.

    • Tuskerdu says:

      Your agruments are deeply flawed.

      Cars are not outlawed because of the sheer numbers. MCs are a differnt story.

    • NJ Steve says:

      where is the DATA quantifying how much money helmetless riders involved in accidents actually costs each of us?? yes… nowhere!

      You are using the Politician’s rhetoric BS as fact where I have yet to see any.

      & where’s the DATA that does the same for a helmeted rider involved in an accident?

      You are making leaps of faith based on a proven untrustworthy source… THE GOVERNMENT!

  22. Vroooom says:

    This is exactly the reason I’m no longer an AMA member. I would support loosening the helmet requirements so something more like a bicycle helmet would be legal, though I’m a full face helmet all the time guy. I’m always surprised at all the unhelmeted people in ID/MT when I ride there, you just know that something bad eventually happens to everyone, and hope they’ve got a lid on when it does.

  23. donniedarko says:

    The fact that the AMA with its worst failure in membership ever, and lowest, loss of AMA Pro Racing, hugely over paid senior staff (give the earlier facts), and they are focusing legal and lobbying dollars on this crap??! huh

    Seriously its 2012 and we are still talking about this.

    If you dont wear a helmet you should be on a insurance waiver and pay more so the consensus rates arent so high for people like me dont have to. Even if I rode in a state that said I didnt have to wear a helmet I would.

    ….and if any of you guys want to argue about it save it. Just take that energy and send a condolence to the poor bastard whose dead at the no-helmet protest ride who crashed and died from head injuries.

    totally asinine

  24. Guy says:

    Read this.
    – With helmet: No issue (live free)
    – Without helmet: No life (or die)–general-news/us-biker-dies-in-anti-helmet-protest/18471.html

  25. Johnne Lee says:

    As a taxpayer (and avid motorcyclist, combat veteran, and retired-Emergency Room provider) I oppose mandatory helmet laws as long as injured motorcyclists don’t expect me to pay for or provide their medical care. Nor am I willing to allow my insurance premiums to go up because of their injuries.

    Anyone who participates in inherently high-risk hobbies should be required to either agree to were injury mitigating apparel or sign a document that allows ER providers to “voluntarily” provide care and allows insurance companies to “voluntarily” provide payment for care related to the high-risk hobby.

    I have witnessed a number of innocent deaths because ER personnel where tied up dealing with some moron who was not wearing appropriate protective gear while participating in a high-risk hobby.

    No protective gear = no health care. In that case I’m all for completely voluntary protective gear use.

    Your free to do with your body anything you like as long as you don’t expect society to assume any burden.

    Trust me, I know a thing or three about what we used to call “combat triage”!

    Go for it!

    • NJ Steve says:

      I agree! This is not about wearing a helmet or we’d all be wearing them while driving cars if we thought they were adding that much safety…

      It’s about having medical coverage (insurance)…. & I agree… I don’t want to pay for your accident, helmeted or not…if you don’t have health coverage…

  26. Martin says:

    I do not support government regulation of individual liberties; a helmet law cannot stop stupidity. I’ve seen plenty of helmet wearing “legal” riders blasting down the road in shorts and tee shirts. What the AMA should spend thier resources on is better training standards for licensing. Pilots train and test on each class of aircraft they fly; why not do that with motorcycles? Is it really safe for everyone if someone with no experience or more than basic training buys a new ZX14? If you’ve earned that 600+ cc licence, then you will most likely be WANTING to wear a helmet (and jacket, gloves, boots, etc).

  27. Hot Dog says:

    If you ride lots of miles, a helmet will be needed equipment. If you’re needing attention of others, pose pretty, beat your chest, whilst you proclaim “Defenders of FREEDOM”! Most Poseurs don’t ride, but they assume all expertise. Laugh at the “Poseurs” and tip a hat at the Adventure Tour folks, who don’t worry what they look like.

  28. butchy says:

    I’m an AMA member. I support pretty much all their messages except the helmet thing. I staunchly disagree with them. Getting helmets on as many riders’ heads as possible is the best way to see lower fatalities NOW. Universal wear laws could do this.

    It kills me that the AMA will go out of their way to correct the obnoxious loud pipes problem as a major initiative “for our survival”, but not support mandatory helmet use for literal survival. But there are too many biker-types using the American flag and freedom cliches to continue with their costume party.

    To the rider that crashed without a helmet and is now severely brain damaged…If you could go back in time and strap on a good helmet before your crash, would you? How many would say NO? I’d imagine very few.

    It’s really easy to get fired up over this issue when you believe the other side’s argument is sooo stupid.

    • ilikefood says:

      Sure, making helmets mandatory would lower fatalities. You know what would lower fatalities even more? Banning motorcycles. The big problem with using “it will lower fatalities” as an argument for making something mandatory (or forbidden) is that there are a lot of fun things that can get caught up in that argument.

      I’ve been riding bikes for 12+ years and I’ve never ridden without a helmet, so helmet laws don’t affect me at all. But I’m glad the AMA is pushing back against the “outlaw anything dangerous” mentality. That’s the real battle here, not helmet laws specifically.

      • Tuskerdu says:


      • ROXX says:

        People have a right to be stupid, even if the government disagrees.

      • ilikefood says:

        Pretty much everyone drives cars, so no matter how dangerous they are they could never be banned. Any attempt to ban them would just never work politically. But motorcyclists are a very small minority, so banning motorcycles would be much easier – especially if the “ban anything that’s dangerous” mentality is allowed to flourish, and people start seeing that as a valid basis for laws.

        I never said that riding motorcycles is a right. In fact, riding motorcycles is a fragile privilege, very vulnerable to the “ban anything that’s dangerous” mentality. That’s why it’s good that the AMA is pushing back against this legislation.

        • NJ Steve says:

          But the sheep have drunk the kool aide & are now BLIND!

          There have been many attempts over the years to outright BAN many motorcycles here in the USA. They tried to outlaw sportbikes & continue to look for ways to mandate that no bike can accelerate beyond 65 mph or so….

          Insurance companies pay the Politicians (lobby=bribe) to do their bidding & the Pols sell it to us repackaged as something “GOOD” for us….
          No thanks!

    • Nate says:

      Wow. Now exactly what article of the Constitution is it that gives the Federal Government the power to regulate motorcycle safety again?

      And exactly why should the feds stop at motorcycle helmets? how many lives could be saved if people wore helmets in automobiles as well?

      I am an ATGAT rider. All The Gear All The Time. But I am strongly against all helmet laws because it is not the government’s job to protect us from ourselves! In fact.. the second it starts protecting us from ourselves we become its slaves!

    • Joe Bar says:

      I am also an AMA member. I realise that the vast majority of US motorcyclists are not members.

      Divisive issues like this are one of the reasons more folks don’t join, and the AMA cannot win, no matter what side they are on.

      I look at this as a simple press release against federal power expansion, nothing more.

      I believe there are many more motorcyclists who are in favor of riding helmetless than those who believe in mandatory helmet use. They just don’t hang around “Motorcyledaily”, or “ADVRider”, or “ThunperTalk”, etc.

  29. Tim says:

    If nothing else, the comments here show that there are probably as many or more motorcyclists who believe helmet laws are good, as there are who believe they are bad. The AMA should not be supporting something that probably half or more of it’s constituants are against. They should stop stop fighting against helmet legislation, and let others fight that battle (for example, let Harley Davidson fight that battle and use their money.)

    Helmet laws should not be the AMA’s fight, when motorcyclists are so split on whether there should be helmet laws.

    • Joe Bar says:

      “If nothing else, the comments here show that there are probably as many or more motorcyclists who believe helmet laws are good, as there are who believe they are bad.”

      I disagree, Tim. I believe there are many more motorcyclists who are in favor of riding helmetless than those who believe in mandatory helmet use. They just don’t hang around “Motorcyledaily”, or “ADVRider”, or “ThunperTalk”, etc.

      Try floating the same arguments at more cruiser-oriented websites, or “ABATE”.

      • Tim says:

        Regardless of the percentages for or against, there are no doubt a lot of riders who support helmet laws, and an organization whose mission should be supporting all motorcyclists should not be taking such a devisive stance. That’s my main point here. As I said, let Harley Davidson and Victory take on these issues. As you point out, it is the cruiser crowd who is against helmet laws. The AMA should not be messing around with something this devisive. The day the AMA backs off this fight, I will join immediately. I suspect thousands of others would follow suit. I can tell from the comments here that I am not alone in that stance.

  30. JPJ says:

    Dave 9284, your reason for not joining the AMA is proof positive, your an idiot. The AMA does so much more for motorcyclist than just goverment relations.

  31. PN says:

    With its opposition to helmet laws, the AMA ill-serves its purported community. It’s like the NRA. Who needs it?

    • JSH says:

      I am a former member of both organizations. They both suffer from an “If we give and inch, they’ll take a mile” mentality. Both fight reasonable regulation and cater to their most paranoid members.

      • JSH says:

        The AMA has also come out against the recent NHTSA recommendation to ban cell phone use while driving. While the AMA agrees talking on the phone and texting are a safety hazard they don’t think the solution is a federal ban. Sounds a lot like their “Everyone should wear a helmet, but don’t make them mandatory” stance on helmet laws.

        • shane says:

          JSH, I always use the NRA example when describing why I will never join the AMA. Considering that in the ’70s 35 states had helmet laws and somehow motorcycling wasn’t outlawed then it is a bogus argument. And for this legislation in particular it makes sense to mandate helmets when the whole point of the program is to fund motorcycle safety. It is worth noting that Ayotte is from the only state in the nation without a seatbelt law and NH forfeits federal highway funds because of it. The same standard could apply here.

          There are so many greater threats to motorcyclists than mandating a helmet. And I speak as a rider of 29 years, having gotten my first motorcycle when I was 16, before I had a car.

  32. JR says:

    IF helmets are so important why aren’t insurance rates lower for those that wear helmets? Seems like a bunch of ATGATT we know better than everyone else riders out here today. why not just outlaw motorcycles, they are more dangerous than cars. A full face helmet does impair visibility compared to no helmet. they increase fatigue in hot weather. comparisons with professional race car drivers is silly. oh and i love the argument “I’ve crashed multiple times and the helmet always saves me” you’re a lousy rider sell the bike and walk, just don’t try to chew gum at the same time.

    • Nate says:

      well… this ATGATT rider is in complete agreement with you… but not because I think helmets aren’t safer… just because I don’t want the federal government being my, or anyone else’s, nanny.

      If you choose to not wear a helmet…I’m fine with it. I think you’re an idiot… but I support your right to be an idiot.

      If you want to force someone to ride the way you think they should ride… and employ the force of law to do it… then you’re worse than an idiot. You’re an evil tyrant.

    • 80-watt Hamster says:

      The rate thing doesn’t work because there’s no way to monitor it. However, many policies won’t pay out if you crash with no helmet.

  33. Roadrash1 says:

    Many needed organs are harvested from those who have an unfortunate accident while enjoying this freedom, or whatever they see it as.

    So, as they say, “Every cloud as a silver lining.”

  34. Ed says:

    I think helmets will save lives and should be mandated especially in …, think how many lives could be saved! We need Government to have total control of our lives so we can’t possibly do anything dangerous.

  35. Cory says:

    Here is a link for an abstract of the Goldstein paper, with pro/con conclusions.

  36. Dave9284 says:

    I will not join or support the AMA until they stop fighting helmet laws.

    • bikerrandy says:

      There are far more important MC issues to fight than a helmet law, so I belong to the AMA and ignore these stupid wear/not helmet laws.

      Before there were ANY helmet laws required in the US I wore 1. My state(Az.) does not require I wear a helmet, but I do anywayfor self protection if and when I need it. My helmets have saved my bacon many times already in 48 years of riding. When I see a helmetless rider, I say to myself, there’s another idiot.

      • Joe Bar says:

        The AMA is, and always has been, between a rock and a hard place on the helmet law issue. Of the estimated 3 million motorcyclists in the US, how many do you think would vote for mandatory helmet laws? I would imagine a lot of riders NOT represneted on this page, would disagree.

  37. e-bob says:


  38. xootrx says:

    Those of us who remember the Carter administration, understand the lack of moderation our lawmakers can demonstrate when making laws. Joan Claybrook, Carter’s appointed head of the NHTSA, was able to pass a law mandating motorcycle speedometers displaying a maximum of 85 mph. The next proposed step? Mandatory helmets, but not just any helmets. These would have had circuitry connected to the bike, with a red light on top, which would begin to rotate if the rider exceeded 85 mph. I kid you not, look it up. If the feds on both sides of the aisle were capable of just passing something that made sense, I’d be more open to it. But judging by their spending, taxation, and overall legislative habits, I’d rather leave those things to the individual states, as the founders intended.

  39. Not a biker says:

    There is only 1 real reason not to wear a helmet-vanity.When you buy a $20K fashion accsesory you want to be seen with it.Some people buy bikes like a woman buys a purse,this will make me look cool and the girls will faint when they see it.When I buy a bike I want safty,comfort,performance and dollar value.Some people pay big money for antiquated technology and make it less safe by putting apehangers and forward controls on it so control of an alredy compromised bike is worse yet.For what?Vanity.Dress like me and act like me and you can be an individual too.Come on admit it.They are wearing a costume and are absolute conformers and a helmeted rider does not look menacing.

    • Reinhart says:

      Darwin has a way of selecting these riders out of the gene pool. We should stop complaining as the breed of riders is constantly improving….

  40. Jeremy in TX says:

    I am an AMA member because there are some things that need an organized effort to combat like the federal “wilderness” proposals. Some of the battles they pick are just stupid, though, and this is one of them.

    If a state chooses not to enact a helmet law then so be it, but the federal government should have every right to deny funds to that state for motorcycle safety programs if it isn’t meeting the criteria the government sets out for receiving those funds. Safety starts with culture, and the $ spent on safety programs will go much further in a state where the status quo is all riders already wearing helmets. Spend the money on the people who are more likely to benefit from the programs rather than just throwing money at square-one over and over again trying to convince people that a helmet is cooler than a doorag.

  41. craigj says:

    I find it highly ironic that the politician in question is recieving praise because he’s defending choice in helmet laws, when actually his complaint is that his state would be getting less free government handout money.

  42. Delta425 says:

    Hell, I say if you are stupid enough not to wear a helmet, then you deserve what you get when Darwin reaches out and swats you. Although, it does piss me off that my money then, has to go toward trying to save these idiots when they do survive. And, why do I have to wear a seatbelt in a car (which is MANY times safer than a motorcycle) but, in many states are not required to wear a helmet on a motorcycle?

  43. Pablo says:

    I don’t want constant regulation however helmet laws are no different than seat belts; pure common sense. You don’t see sports car drivers lobbying to repeal seat belt laws. You don’t see NFL football players, or even NHL hockey players lobbying to go back to the “good old days” and make helmets optional so why in the world do some who ride really believe that they are as safe without a helmet? Its simple, you drive a car, you buckle up; you ride a motorcycle you wear a helmet. Common sense. I am completely in favor of a federally mandated helmet law, it will protect us from ourselves so to speak.

  44. Tim says:

    The helmet stance is the one and only reason I’ve never joined the AMA. Unfortunately, some people need protection from their own stupidity. Society doesn’t need to take on the expense of yet one more vegetable who could have been spared if only the idiot had been wearing a helmet. The AMA should be representing the views of the majority of motorcyclists, not just the vocal minority who think going helmetless is a good idea.

    • 80-watthamster says:

      At the risk of touching off a philosophical flame war, you make two asinine assumptions: the tired “we need to protect people from themselves!” nonsense and that the vocal minority who oppose helmet laws “think going helmetless is a good idea”. The government knows best approach has given us a society where one can hardly go about day-to-day life without breaking some minor or obscure regulation, and it’s only getting worse. Also, in any discussion of helmet use I’ve ever seen, even law opponents don’t claim riding without to be wise. Whatever your stance on this particular issue, the government has better things to do with its time and money than to try to legislate individual behavior.

      • Tuskerdu says:

        80-watthamster, you make excellent points. I would add that the “vegetable” argument is also misinformed. You are more likely to die when not wearing a helmet, not become a “vegetable”.

      • Cory says:

        You’ve never seen ABATE in action, holding up “The Goldstein Paper” that claims that helmets, especially full faced helmets increase neck injury, decrease peripheral vision, etc. Goldstein incorrectly used Harry Hurt’s math to create his own agenda, and despite a refutation by Dr. Hurt himself, many ABATE members still hold it up as “evidence.” I wish no ill will toward ABATE members because I like their grass-roots mentality compared to AMA, but I can’t join because they would rather give bad information to their members rather than facts.

        • shane says:

          And the AMA will never disavow the ABATE crew. The AMA doesn’t need to spread the lies about helmets, they let ABATE do that.

      • Samizdat says:

        I don’t see why some people can’t comprehend a basic concept that some regulations are good and even necessary, while other regulations are bureaucratic overkill. When people find ecoli in their food or asbestos in their insulation, it’s probably a good idea to have those things regulated. On the other end of the spectrum, speedometers that only read up to 85 are an example of asinine and heavy handed regulation. So why is that we can’t consider each example on its own merit? If you don’t like helmet laws, you should have a better reason than “All regulation bad! Freedom good!”

        • Tuskerdu says:

          I guess the government should just outlaw motorcycles. Perhaps the safety, regulation freaks will then be happy.

        • 80-watt Hamster says:

          There’s always a balance to be struck. Food safety is endangering the safety of others, and regis opposed by pretty much no one. Helmet use endangers only the rider (not willing to get into societal costs here), and doesn’t seem to have the same kind of widespread support. We are a self-governing people, albeit in a representative fashion. Regardless of individual stance, if proponents outnumber opponents, proponents win. Theoretically. In practice the federal government likes to pull the “states do what we say or we smack them with the budget bat” card. Regardless of whether or not what’s being pushed is desirable, that shouldn’t happen. Yes, everybody should wear a helmet. I wear a full-face without exception. That doesn’t mean I believe the law should have the power to force someone to make the same choice.

          • Samizdat says:

            To me the helmet laws are beside the point, what bothers me is that the AMA spends so much time and resources fighting them. If it’s basic common sense to wear a helmet, then what harm is a law requiring it for the knuckleheads who can’t figure it out for themselves? Why spend your resources fighting that, instead of things that actually effect riding, like extra bike parking in cities, or legalizing lane splitting (like in the rest of the world). People sometimes have a very strange notion of freedom.

  45. NJ Steve says:

    I always wear a helmet & think everyone that rides should but if they choose otherwise & it’s legal, then be my guest.

    I never wear AGATT! When I ride in the warmer weather, I wear jeans, Harley T & work boots…no jacket, no armor, no full face helmet (Bell 1/2 helmet), etc…

    I know there are some here who might think I am stupid riding without wearing a full coverage, 1 piece riding suit with full coverage helmet, etc….

    While I am no fan of the AMA or the politicians, (especially the 90+ year old Lautenberg), the last thing I want is more regulation telling me what (e.g.) type/brand helmet, jacket I must wear, etc…. what my bike can & cannot have, etc….

    The motorcycle industry is already way over-regulated…. take catalytic convertors…what a waste of money & weight! Motorcycles barely exhaust any CO2 but the Feds mandate that bikes be treated the same as cars….

    The relentless, over the top grab for power & control by the politicians is what the problem is. I’ve been riding for 30 years without incident & I don’t need some already dead corpse of a politician (Lautenberg) mandating what I wear when I ride!
    Vote em all out!

    • zore says:

      They make some great summer jackets that actually make you feel cooler. I don’t wear leathers but I have a nice mesh suit or mesh jacket/pants that are extremely comfortable and give pretty good protection.

      I got to test a set of the joe rocket phoenix jacket and pants a few years back when a deer decided he had the right of way. It ended poorly for him, but I walked a way with nothing more than a bit of agravation that my sprint st destroyed.

      Another way of looking at it is the risk associated with miles ridden. I commuted 140 miles every day for 6 years and felt that, statisticly, the numbers were stacked against me so I decided on agatt.

  46. Joey Wilson says:

    Out of all of the things one could rail about in the political arena, this is just the dumbest thing in the world. I’ll say the same thing about helmets I say about seatbelts: IF you don’t need them, why can you not find a single racer who doesn’t wear a six-point and a HANS device (plus that pesky helmet!) in four-wheelers, or the helmets and leathers and competition gloves and boots that no sanctioning body or track-days school would let you do without in order to participate?

    We had a well-known local bicycle guru killed when he was thrown over his handlebars from his mountain bike on a city street at a walking pace: Went straight to the Level One Vanderbilt Trauma Center, never regained consiousness and was dead in 7 hours from a header into a curb with no bicycle helmet. Or think of that poor guy at the ‘Freedom Rally’ in NY State last year, killed from a low-speed header at a ‘No Helmet Laws’ Rally.

    If you don’t want to wear a helmet, that’s your business. You can also juggle chain saws, climb over the fence at the Lion Country, or play Russian Roulette with real firearms. But just ’cause you can does NOT make it a good idea, and puh-leeze save me this really moronic rant about ‘freedom’. When you turn your head into a pile of Steak Tartar on the end of your neck, I’m sure those attending your funeral will be so proud that you never knuckled under to Uncle Sam and all those meddling politicians in DC.

  47. marsjo says:

    This is the silliest, most moronic thing about motorcycling. The American Motorcyclist Association should be educating it’s members constantly about the necessity of wearing helmets instead of championing the “cause moronic” about some kind of freedom phantasm. And Kelly Ayotte as a champion for motorcyclists rights should be the first clue of foolishness and folly.