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Lobbying Efforts, Including Those by the AMA, Continue to Knock Back Mandatory Helmet Laws

In an interesting article summarizing the current state of motorcycle helmet laws in the United States, and the impact on those laws of lobbying efforts by various groups, including the AMA, it is stated that mandatory helmet laws for all riders are now in existence in only 19 states, versus 47 states in the late 1970s.

Motorcyclists favoring personal freedom over mandatory helmet use seem to have the upper hand when it comes to lobbying legislators, both on the state and federal level. According to the article referenced earlier, the social cost attributed to medical bills and lost productivity as a result of motorcyclists failing to wear helmets is approximately $1.3 billion as of 2008. Lack of motorcycle helmets is blamed as one factor in the significant increase in motorcycle deaths in the last 15 years, despite the opposite trend among automobile occupants (whose deaths have dropped significantly during the same time-frame).

We welcome your comments, and understand that this is a very emotional issue for many of our readers, but please speak in a civil manner, and respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, just as you are.

156 Comments

  1. Jetblack says:

    Helmet laws should be compulsory or up to the driver, unless that rider is under age 18. Once a person is and adult then they should have a right to choose to wear a helmet or not. Allowing the state and local governments to make choices such as these for grown adults in the name of whatever reason, is a bad idea…it strengthens their ability to pass parental role laws. That tells grown adults what they can and can’t do, the state and federal government doesn’t care if your head splits like a melon…they really don’t, what they do care about is the revenue ticketing writing does bring, they get greedy for revenue because they cannot effectively budget their resources; in turn they keep creating nanny laws to tap your wallet and chip away at freedom after freedom, since they always want more revenue. That’s the larger picture in the argument, my state doesn’t have helmet laws yet…so currently they are talking about raising the taxes for the rainwater that falls on your dwelling; like you have any control over that. It’s ridiculous, the power that we let them have over us.

  2. Gordo says:

    The easiest way to solve the problem is to have medical insurance companies refuse to cover anyone in a motorcycle accident that was not wearing a helmet and to have Emergency wards have the accident victim wait their turn with all the other non critical patients. This way everybody can choose whatever gear they want and let natural selection take its course.

  3. Don says:

    The valid argument here is that mandatory helmet laws dry up the pool of organ donors. No helmet laws = lots of livers, kidneys, hearts, lungs, etc., so I guess there is some intrinsic value,

    • JBoz says:

      From my experience those who ride w/o helmets wouldn’t have usable livers, hearts or lungs. Just sayin’

  4. jims says:

    only an idiot would ride without a helmet

    • sherm says:

      Or someone who sees almost everyone else doing it. Do you think 99% of Harley riders in a no-law state are idiots, I don’t? Its plain old peer pressure and the need to belong. Same with flip flops, tank tops, and shorts on crotch rockets.

  5. Gabe says:

    CDC Says: Wear your helmets, fer cryin out loud already!
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6123a1.htm?s_cid=mm6123a1_w

    Less than 1% of vehicle miles traveled and 14 percent of deaths? Sheesh…

    “In 2010, the 4,502 motorcyclists (operators and passengers) killed in motorcycle crashes made up 14% of all road traffic deaths, yet motorcycles accounted for <1% of all vehicle miles traveled (1,2). Helmet use consistently has been shown to reduce motorcycle crash–related injuries and deaths, and the most effective strategy to increase helmet use is enactment of universal helmet laws (3). Universal helmet laws require all motorcyclists to wear helmets whenever they ride. To examine the association between states' motorcycle helmet laws and helmet use or nonuse among fatally injured motorcyclists, CDC analyzed 2008–2010 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a census of fatal traffic crashes in the United States (1). Additionally, economic cost data from NHTSA were obtained to compare the costs saved as a result of helmet use, by type of state motorcycle helmet law. The findings indicated that, on average, 12% of fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing helmets in states with universal helmet laws, compared with 64% in partial helmet law states (laws that only required specific groups, usually young riders, to wear helmets) and 79% in states without a helmet law."

  6. Vrooom says:

    All I can say is I was riding in Idaho, where helmets are not mandatory in 2010. A deer jumped a fence and hit my bike on it’s way back down, I was going about 65. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet, as the deer knocked me down hard, and I ground about a 1/4″ off one side of the helmet as I slid down the road. Thanks to the helmet and gear I was wearing (ATGATT) I was able to bungee and duct tape my bike together and get the camping gear back on the bike and ride home. I’m pretty certain I’d be hospitalized or dead without the helmet. The nut is that no matter if you’re the best rider or the worst, a deer jumping a fence at noon and hitting you before it hits the ground is tough to avoid. Is the “wind in your hair” worth that risk, is it worth it to your family?

  7. Jeremy in TX says:

    A lot of people who oppose helmet laws tend to issue the “It won’t stop there!” argument: “First the helmet law, then mandatory ABS, TPMS, armored gear, HP limits, tiered licensing, etc., etc.” I think that position is somewhat naive, and in fact I use that same argument to support helmet laws.

    You want motorcycling to be regulated? Just wait as you enjoy your “freedom” and rider deaths continue to climb, especially among the “indestructable” 16 – 25 age group whose devastated parents relentlessly pursue such legislation. That will call the vultures in for sure. Even the dimmest politicians can connect the dots. Things happen from a regulatory standpoint when issues hit some sort of critical mass. That’s when you’ll really start seeing some restrictions because it will be an all out offensive against the hazard of motorcycling, and that is when regulations snowball.

    I’m sorry, but my freedom to ride my motorcycle of choice when and where I want is more important than your childish desire for straight pipes on your street bike or your choice to go lidless. I am not trying to be egotistical: it is just that all I see with the opposition of helmet laws and other laws that tend to irritate the general public is a short-term gain soon to be followed up by a crushing, permanent defeat once the monster awakens. The AMA needs to choose it battles more carefully.

    • T. Rollie says:

      If the insurance companies could save money through a mandatory helmet law, then in the US we would have a mandatory helmet law. As it is, insurance companies benefit if the biker just dies, not if he or she is stuck in a hospital for weeks or months or years. That’s how capitalism works in our country. But we prefer to call it freedom.

    • Rooster says:

      •Helmet use among fatally injured motorcycle riders has remained constant, at just above 50 percent in the last ten years.

      -recent NHTSA report

      So while fatal accidents per miles ridden have increased, helmet use has remained relatively constant. Maybe instead of helmet laws we should be focusing more on rider training. Instead of passing a new law, maybe the .gov could allow or encourage insurance companies to charge confiscatory rates to riders who have not completed an MSF rider safety course. From the helmet standpoint, maybe they could also allow insurance companies to deny coverage based upon whether or not the rider was wearing a lid.

      In my neighborhood, you see a lot more squids wearing jackets and helmets than you do cruiser pilots. My completely unscientific guesstimation would put the ratio between these groups at 8:1, it is very rare around here to see a cruiser jockey wear a helmet while crotch rocket operators seem to wear lids at about 2:3 ratio. At the other end are the BMW/Wing crowd who seem to always wear a helmet. I wonder if anyone else has noticed a similar trend in their area?

      • Tom says:

        However, cruiser drivers have patriotism, religious god-given rights, blowing hair, and machismo on their side. And free emergency care and ambulance rides.

  8. John Tuttle says:

    There is not one point that anyone can make regarding this issue, that has not already been said at least a million times. Yet, we motorcyclists keep having this same debate. It seems to me a bad version of that movie “Groundhog Day”, or perhaps a SciFi movie where the protagonist is caught in a time loop and has to keep listening to this very debate repeatedly forever and ever and ever.

    One observation that I will share. It occurs to me that if the government were to take the opposite position and require riders to not wear protective head gear, the majority of the crowd that is vehemently opposed to helmet laws would immediately switch position and start wearing helmets. Their protests would occasionally mention their desire to protect themselves, but mostly it would be about their personal rights and freedoms. This anti-helmet stuff is downright childish. To protect your eyes and even keep them from drying out you at least would need some very large goggles that would almost certainly interfere with peripheral vision and would be difficult to keep on. Anyone who is concerned in a genuine way with government intrusion is focusing on the Patriot Act. There is where you have a real, genuine reason for concern, for anyone who is genuinely concerned about the rights and liberties thing. I can’t fathom that anyone who is genuinely concerned about the Patriot Act would do anything but laugh should someone suggest to them that they should also take up a stand against helmet laws.

  9. sherm says:

    If you looked at helmet use like workplace safety, the helmet laws make more sense. If workplace safety rules require that you wear a hardhat, do you bitch and bitch about loss of freedom to choose? If you don’t want to get fired you put on your hard hat and do your job. The things you might bitch about is not enough workplace safety.

    Well for motorcyclists the open road is a hardhat area. And without a helmet law, 50% or more of the riders just don’t think about it. Since the AMA, ABATE, and all the “freedom” fans don’t want to be their brothers’ keeper, the government has to step in and do it for them.

    • Rooster says:

      Since you brought up workplace safety as an example, let me give you a counter argument to think about.

      I work for a large oil company as an field automation tech. Recently OSHA passed a rule that ALL field employees in the oil and gas industry must wear arc flash resistant clothing (FRC’s) regardless of area, assignment, or duties. If you are unfamiliar with this type of clothing, it is heavy and very hot and uncomfortable during the summer months. Before this ruling, the only employees required to wear FRC’s were electricians conducting work on live electrical equipment. Now all employees must wear it, even if they will never ever be exposed to conditions that might warrant its use. Since the OSHA ruling, there has been no measurable drop in arc flash injuries (since the folks that really needed the gear were already wearing it anyway) but there has been a rather large increase in heat related illness and injuries industry wide. Not to mention that the implemetation of this new OSHA rule is costing the industry more than 100$ Million dollars annually(yay gas prices!!!). In my job i rarely work on anything over 110v AC, usually its 12/24 DC stuff, yet I have to wear this heavy arc flash clothing just like i was working in a live 480v panel. Before, if i needed to work on hot high voltage stuff i would just throw on my FRC coveralls as needed, but now i do not have that option. The government has taken my choice away.

      My example of how faceless bureacrats are “helping” me and making my life “better” by saving me from myself since neither I nor my company are apparently capable of making decisions for ourselves.

      I still cannot figure out why so many people are so in love with the government making personal safety decisions for you. The “cost to society, its coming out of my pocketbook” argument is a red herring used by people to justify their self righteous desire for more government regulation of someone elses behavior that they do not agree with.

      As far as “being my brothers keeper”, if your are 18 yrs. or older and mentally competent, I DO NOT CARE if you choose to be a moron and kill youself by not wearing a helmet, it is not my responsibility to wipe your mouth, cut the crust off of your bread, or buckle your lid for you.

      • sherm says:

        When helmet laws are cancelled, helmet use usually goes from 100% to 50% or 60% very quickly. On a hot summer day (or month) use might drop to 5%. Are half the riders in the state morons? If that’s true I can’t think of a better reason for the government to get involved, especially since the motorcycling community itself really doesn’t give a damn if half the riders go helmetless.

  10. Mike says:

    I don’t need anyone to tell me to wear a helmet (or a seatbelt) because I know it’s the right thing to do for me. Keeping myself safe for my family’s sake is what’s important to me. You couldn’t convince me riding without a helmet is safer than with a helmet.

    Government feels the need to legislate this because of 2 reasons, to protect it’s own wallet or to protect the wallet of campaign financiers and to protect the freedoms of the innocent from those who make poor decisions. There are many ways that a rider’s choice not to wear a helmet could restrict the freedom of others.

    Personally, I believe in some limited legislation. I believe helmet use should be required for minors (under 18) and for newly licensed riders for one year and until a MSF course is completed at the cost of the rider. After that the choice is your with an exception. I believe in order to go without a helmet, the rider should have to waive their rights to any type of motorcycle insurance, health, life, or other benefits that could be collected as the result of a head injury and the right to hold any other entity liable for any head injuries related to any moving incident where the rider was not wearing a helmet. The rider could chose to opt out of this waiver anytime by simply wearing a helmet.

    • sherm says:

      Think about it Mike. Under your plan a helmetless rider has a crash causing a serious head injury, then is denied insurance and health benefits related to the head injury. What happens next? Does the emergency room turn its back on the guy and let him bleed out? If a neurosurgeon is need to save his life or functioning, is that denied? Of course rehab would be totally out of the question. Our society doesn’t work like that, thank God.

  11. Norm G. says:

    re: “According to the article referenced earlier, the social cost attributed to medical bills and lost productivity as a result of motorcyclists failing to wear helmets is approximately $1.3 billion as of 2008.”

    then the amount due to alcohol, drug abuse, depression, people being generally incompetent at their jobs, or just plain ol’ dysfunctional nutcases must be in the TENS if not HUNDEREDS of billions…? i see lost productivity due to aformentioned everyday, but in 25 years have yet to encounter a single instance of it due to “failure to wear”…? kinda puts things in perspective.

  12. william says:

    We don’t need more laws, we need the information. Show us that helmets are safer and better, and most people will follow logic and reason and wear them.

    People have very good points below. Give an inch take a mile comes to mind with our government, and the fact they are not smart. Next they will tell us we can’t buy a 32 oz soft drink or something.

    We must be extermely careful when making laws. Sure it seems better to wear a helmet, but can you say for sure for every rider it is safer? No you can’t. The example below, of the seat belt law seems like the same thing, good for everyone, right? So very wrong. Maybe better for you, but what about the person with medical issues that has to clamp the thing so it doesn’t tighten up. They are not using it properly so they can get a ticket, yet they must do it. So the seatbelt law forces people with medical issues to be lawbreakers. There is no disputing the seatbelt law doesn’t work for everyone.

    So just because helmets work for me and I wear them, it is totally inconsiderate and wrong for me to think they must also work just as well on other people. You have to be very feeble of mind to think that way. For example, some person has an issue with a helmet, and they are constantly taking their hand of the bars to adjust it. Now they are like a person texting and driving, not riding safe. That person would be safer without a helmet. I know, some will say get a better fitting helmet. But again that is so inconsiderate since you have no idea there situation. Maybe they were shot in the head in a war, and a helmet gives them too much pain. That is a valid reason, and you had no idea of it until now.

    So who should chose what is best for themselves, well the choice should remain with the individual person, not laws. Laws like this might make the majority safer, yet reduce the safety of some. Everyone that hasn’t given up their right to think for themelves should find something wrong with one size fits all laws like this.

  13. takehikes says:

    As an old dude I’ve ridden with and without helmets both by choice and by law. When the law said I had a choice I chose to use a helmet most of the time. Truthfully they keep your head warmer, its a bit quieter and you can have a face shield. That said I think it should be a choice. I am building a new chopper that is 60′s period correct so that means fast as hell and a tiny mini drum brake up front and a small drum out back. Pretty much a helmet isn’t going to help me if I take this raked and flaked monster in to a situation it should not be in. And in most cases thats the point. Most of the increase in MC wrecks has been fools my age on their new HD that they stuff in to a ditch, ass end of a SUV or tangle up with their buddy. Oh, and those same guys if they don’t have helmets on wear those cool bandannas the size of a table cloth on their forehead. LOL

  14. Guzziguy says:

    These warm summer evenings it is not unusual to see young guys in shorts and tee shirts with a similarly clad gal on the back of a sportbike. I’m confident the only reason they’re wearing helmets is that is the law in California.

  15. jpj says:

    Tyranny is correct on roosters comment, enough said

  16. one2ride says:

    Those who choose to ride without a helmet don’t have anything up there to hurt anyway.

  17. David says:

    I think it all depends how one frames it.

    Wearing a helmet it may not be a freedom issue but a safety issue, much like having good brakes, tires within specs, lights of a certain power, etc. Is someone objecting to the law that makes you have working headlights? And use them after dusk? Is the use of modern disks brakes taking away any freedom because one should have the right to choose drum brakes?
    I think many people make it a “freedom” issue because riding helmet-less makes you “feel” free like in the good old movies, but it has nothing to do with freedom.

    • Rooster says:

      Yes, but brakes, lights, and tires are all safety items that affect OTHER people. A rider who chooses to ride sans helmet is only endangering himself in 99.999999999% of any forseeable situations. It IS a freedom issue because it will not stop there. Next it will be horsepower limits, electronic speed limiters, airbags, mandatory ABS and traction control, then requirements about jackets, footwear, etc. Once the camels nose is in the tent, its just a matter of time. I wear a lid because I choose to, because it is smart; as a resposible adult I am insulted by do-gooder nannies trying to force their choices on me. Just wait till gov. legislation takes away a choice that you enjoy making for yourself, you may find it much less tasteful.

      • Rooster says:

        One more thought, from author C.S. Lewis

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      • Davide says:

        You have a poor imagination Rooster. Without helmet you can be hit by a rock, an large insect, water in your eyes, you name it, loose control and affect others. It is not 0.00000000001% of the occurrences. And then there’s what everybody else mentions here, medical expenses.
        I wear a helmet too and I’m not going to advocate for or against the law anytime soon but it seems to me that you are angry and afraid for what COULD POTENTIALLY follow, not about the helmet law per se. But then it becomes an illogical reaction that can apply to anything. Will you not let you children out of the house because then who know what happens next? The point is the Helmet law, not who knows what happen next. With that thinking, nothing will ever get done because one can imagine countless situations that will never actually happen.

        • Rooster says:

          Well, I think I have a rather good imagination actually. I can imagine a day when the government controls every aspect of your life and you have little or no say or choice in the matter. Personal responsibility will have been replaced with nanny state intervention.
          I will grant you, the helmet law taken by itself is a minor thing, which doesnt really affect me anyway since I always wear one. It is however, part of a slowly creeping erosion of your rights to live your life as you see fit. I am more sad than angry, and yes I am afraid that one day we will be living in a country where the idea of personal responsibility and self determination has completely evaporated. It is not the idea of the helmet law that I am opposed too per se, it is really the concept behind the whole thing.
          What I wonder is why so many people are so eager and willing to accept the yoke of government control in yet another aspect of their lives, no matter how minor that control may seem.
          As a side note, I spent an hour or so researching mtotrcycle accidents on the web and while this is admittedly fairly anecdotal, I could not find an example of an incident in which the lack of a helmet was a contributing factor in the cause of the incident. Maybe you can point me to some actual examples?

          • David says:

            Sorry: yes, you do have a rather good imagination.:) I just cannot see how personal responsibility will play a role when you fall from a bike, with or without a helmet. It’s too late then. To me, it’s a safety issue, just like seat belts and head rest. The only difference is that you don’t actually wear a head rest.
            The problem that I see with this kind of reasoning is that the helmet law is NOT government control (that goes through banks, oil, war/peace, religion, education…) is, to cite Rooster, 99.999999999% safety issue.

    • Stratkat says:

      well you can look at it this way too. if someone without a helmet runs into me and is seriously injured because he was not wearing a helmet, and tries to sue me for costs and damages then yes it does affect me!
      believe me when accidents happen people sue anyone or try to whether its their fault or not.

  18. Rooster says:

    Seems to me there are a lot of ‘slippery slopes’ in this discussion. I have been riding bikes of one flavor or another since age 11, and i can count on one hand the number of times ive ridden without a helmet. It just seems awful damn stupid to ride without one. Having said that, I really do not want the goverment to tell me i HAVE to wear one, because there we go down that slope with the goverment telling me i cant skydive anymore, or downhill ski, or operate a 10 second dragboat or eat fried foods etc, etc, etc, because the potential cost to the health care system is just too high. Besides, costs to the healthcare system by ALL motorcycle accidents are statistically zero compared to the costs of treating obesity related disorders. 1.3Billion$ is an accounting error by comparison.
    If the .Gov would make it a law that you had to exercise 45 minutes a day and only eat lean meats and fresh veggies, we would save enough on healthcare to purchase a 190mph crotch rocket for every single rider in America, which they could then ride helmetless and naked. I hate to sound like a tinfoil hat wearing paranoiac, but government involvement in damn near anything = cluster@#$*. This is just one more front in the battle by the goverment to tell you how to live every aspect of your life.
    If you choose to ride helmetless, I will tell you to your face that you are a dumbass, but I will also fully support your (dwindling)rights to harm yourself in any manner of your choosing.

  19. Mondo Endo says:

    If you think riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a good idea you should be allowed to as long as your insurance is sufficient to keep you watered when you go crash and become plant like..

  20. Terry Wallace says:

    Most automobile deaths and serious injuries(expensive) involve head trauma. I will support mandatory helmet laws only if they apply to ALL motor vehicles, including automobiles and trucks. This is a majority-minority issue, and motorcyclists are in the minority.

  21. Pablo says:

    I am fascinated that this continues to be an issue. The reality is simple, you fall, you hit your head, you’re either done or on a long road to recovery. Michigan just repealed its helmet law while mandating $20k in personal injury insurance however all studies point to the fact that $20k barely scratches the surface of long term medical care (barely covering the ambulance ride and emergency room) so essentially for every helmetless rider that is injured the state picks up the tab for recovery. I tire of “those who ride decide” which is easy to say but when it comes to paying for their care we all have the right to say who and under what circumstances we should pay so in my opinion, no helmet, no help. Take the emotion out of the equation and what you have is the simple fact that wearing a helmet greatly increases survivability in any situation where a rider’s head meets another object. This reminds me of back when the NHL players protested wearing helmets, now look at the ever increasing desire to protect against concussion and head injury. Football is another example, how many players would take to the field without a helmet? Consider Massachusetts where a bicycle rider over 12 years of age must wear a helmet. Why is skipping a helmet, endangering one’s self and potentially costing tax payers millions a “freedom”?

    Anecdotally I watch a steady stream of fellow motorcyclists ride though my area every weekend and the stereotypes seem to come true, there are the crotch-rockets piloted by full faced helmeted riders wearing full gear; the adventure rider and tourist in high viz yellow and the cruiser rider who has the highest likelihood to be sans helmet (and if on a Harley sporting the loudest pipes). It’s fascinating to me, say what you will about technology, hype or rider skill but the stereotypes certainly become reinforced.

    In the end, as a motorcyclist, I can’t help but wonder why we want to actually take steps to degrade our image in the overall public eye. Other motorists and the average John Q Publics of the world already think we’re a menace and a pain in the butt on the road so now by skipping helmets and increasing medical costs to tax payers we somehow think this is going to help raise awareness and public support? I marvel at how conservatives embrace this helmetless ideal claiming freedom of choice while fervently working to deny women their choices. Finally I ask every one of the helmetless why they bother with seatbelts in their cars? Isn’t this the same argument? With training, experience and the acceptance of risk shouldn’t seatbelts be optional too? So go ahead, next time you get into your car, skip the seatbelt, tell the cop who pulls you over for it that you want “those who drive to decide”; try to repeal the seatbelt law. Sometimes, like it or not, we need laws and regulations to save us from ourselves.

    Oh, and for those who do crash without a helmet, I hope one of your fellow supporters of this foolish freedom consuls your family when the doctor tells them that you could have survived if only you’d worn the helmet that now collects dust in your garage.

  22. Torbank says:

    The main reason for increased motorcycle deaths in the last 15 years is the cell phone. If a texting teenager hits a motorcycle while texting, the probability of death to the motorcyclist is much higher than that of death to the driver of any car he hits. Cell phone use has made driving or riding much more dangerous for everyone on the road, but car vs. car collisions are seldom fatal while car vs. motorcycle collisions are much more likely to kill the rider. I don’t need some weenie bureaucrat to tell me to wear my full face helmet. The helmet laws are unnecessary and offensive to responsible riders.

    • sherm says:

      Should some weenie bureaucrat tell the teenagers when and where textng is allowed?

    • Superchkn says:

      Well, I’m open minded, so if you have the study to back that up I’d like to see it. Until then, I’ll believe that a lot of it comes down to new riders and lack of training – which is backed up by the evidence.

      Even if that was the case though, I would think that would cause you to want to wear a helmet more often, that would seem the responsible thing to do. But maybe we’re working with different definitions of the word responsible.

    • Dave says:

      “The helmet laws are unnecessary and offensive to responsible riders”

      There are a great many irresponsible riders out there. The ugly truth is that we already have far too much freedom without demonstrating responsibility. It’s the very thing that’s damaged our economy so badly.

  23. Dean says:

    As a rider, I always wear a helmet. I think that everyone SHOULD wear a helmet of some sort while riding.

    But I am against helmet laws for several reasons.
    1 – Politicians do NOT know how to write laws anymore. They are most often biased, Ineffective with loopholes, or saddled with complications. Sometimes all of the above. Remeber the Lead laws they just passed to protect children from dangerous levels of lead in their toys? They accidentally banned youth-sized cycles and ATV’s at the same time, and it took years to get that fixed!
    2 – If we made laws for everything people SHOULD do, where does that stop? Laws against fast food and overeating? Laws against shooting guns for target or hunting (guns are deadly, you know..)? Driving a car in poor weather conditions (define poor or dangerous weather)?
    3 – Don’t we have more pressing matters to focus on now, like the Economy, Healthcare, more?
    3 – This is America.

    • Dean says:

      Sorry for miscounting… it should be
      4 – This is America!

      Actually, that should be #1, and move everything else down a notch!!

      • Superchkn says:

        I really don’t follow your reasoning, so maybe you can help me understand. The government should be able to mandate seat belt usage and safety equipment regulations for cars, what distracting activities are safe to practice while driving, and (motorcycle specific) that riders wear eye protection. But mandating helmet usage on motorcycles is un-American? Color me perplexed.

        • Dean says:

          I agree with you, as I wrestle with the arguments as well.

          I read other posts, similar to your own, and agree that we are better off with Seat belt laws, Distracted driving laws (cell phone use and texting), etc. And why not just add helmet laws to that as well? It would save lives. You could still have freedom of choice for the style, brand, color of helmet. Less might be spent on medical costs of those who crash. I see the validity of all those arguments, and find it difficult to dismiss them. I already disclosed I always wear a helmet, and recommend helmets to anyone.

          But my greatest argument against helmet laws is squarely based on the Politicians that seem incapable of writing sensible laws. The best intentions are started, then through committees and meetings, and negotiations with the different Parties and houses, that best intention becomes some bastardized document. Skewed by lobbyists, twisted by lawyers that tend to open more loopholes than they close. (AMA has lobbyists that try to bring things back to normal, as there are many groups who would love to ban motorcycles from streets, dirt, public land access, everywhere.

          And the next biggest reason against it mentioned by others, is “what’s next?”. If we were to pass a sensible helmet law for every state, do you think that would be the end? How about Horsepower limits? Is it Safe to allow 200HP sportbikes on public roads? Three wheeled Bikes are more stable than Two wheeled ones, should we still be allowed to ride the dangerous Two-wheelers? Where does it end?

          Maybe it is best to “draw a line in the sand” on Helmet use, if for no other reason than it leaves the other issues alone for now. And as for the medical costs, maybe we actually SAVE healthcare costs by letting even minor falls kill the riders. Then instead of medical bills, there are just funeral costs. It’s a pretty cold argument, but is it untrue?

  24. If the state mandates seat belt usage, they can mandate helmets for all motorcyclists which they need to reinstate. The medical costs for the squid with his helmet on the side of his CBR with the extended swingarm is too great, but, what’s worse is the cruiser crowds who don’t ride as well as the sportbike rider, and, their machines don’t handle as well either as the sportbike, most of the accidents are in the former category as the majority of bikes out there are cruisers!

  25. Ted says:

    For those who oppose wearing head protection, the public should oppose giving them medical and rehabilitation privileges. Their choice, their consequence… Pass a law: No helmet, No medical coverage. It sounds severe, but taking responsibility for ones actions is learned the hard way.

    • T. Rollie says:

      This makes some sense, but I would say, “You have no insurance? Then no medical coverage at all.” Folks who refuse to buy insurance should sign a waiver that says they will not use any publicly funded medical coverage.

      But regarding the no-helmet riding, accidents-with-helmets-on are more costly than accidents-with-no-helmets. Because without a helmet, the rider is probably dead. Dead is inexpensive. Severe injuries is very expensive. As a tax-paying citizen I favor no helmets — dead bikers don’t cost taxpayers much.

    • sherm says:

      Ted, does this mean letting them bleed out by the side of the road – road kill style?

      In real life an accident happens, the victim is rushed to the emergency room, and the medical staff goes to works to save the patient and fix the injuries. Timing is crucial, and $100,000 in medical expenses can be run up before some bureaucratic weenie can barge in and call a halt because the patient wasn’t wearing helmet.

      I’m for mandatory helmet laws, but I’d never be in favor of your “let them bleed out” idea. This is America.

  26. dabimf says:

    I had an accident in 06. I wear a full face helmet. It saved my bacon. There is no way you will not hit your head on something when you crash your bike. I’m a retired police officer and have seen many fatal motorcycle accidents. Like Tom said, if you have a fatal crash it is relatively inexpensive to resolve. However, if you become veggy you cost the rest of the people to take care of you. Helmets aren’t the saving grace during a crash but you have a far better chance at remaining a normal human being if you wear one.

    • T. Rollie says:

      If I crash without a helmet on, there’s a very good chance I die. That’s much cheaper for insurance companies. Insurance executives and investors like that. If I own stock in motorcycle insurance and health insurance companies, and I suspect I do, I hope that no riders wear helmets.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      How much bacon was saved? I thought only ABS saved bacon.

  27. Podantius Maximus says:

    There’s a time and place for everything. All you old guys on your gigantic $20K BMW’s having an “adventure” (LOLOLOL) commuting in LA refusing to split lanes even though it’s legal because it’s just not safe, commenting on helmet laws never having ridden outside of the city. What the hell did you get into motorcycling for anyway? On a deserted Arizona highway riding a Harley with no helmet is the most natural thing in the world. Mobbing on mopeds, as they call it, in Charleston South Carolina is the only way to go and precisely because you don’t have a shred of gear on. I would never ride a sportbike at twice the limit through the canyons without everything in the A* catalogue on me though, so just chill. Some states don’t even need lane splitting laws because there is no god damned traffic, in the same vein they just don’t need helmet laws. Let the people decide.

  28. Wilson says:

    I am 59 years old and have ridden since I was 17. Occasionally when driving my car I catch myself not seeing a motorcyclist at an intersection as easily as I see a car. I am thankful that I have never pulled out in front of someone on a motorcycle. But in the event that I do something stupid one day and pull out in front of someone on a motorcycle, I hope that person does not make me a murderer by not having a helmet on. If riding without a helmet would never effect someone else I would say do what you feel.

  29. Tim says:

    This is the one and only reason I won’t join the AMA. They should take a neutral stance on this issue, given how divided the motorcycling community is on this issue.

    • Jake says:

      The motorcycling community, in America, isn’t too divided — the majority of motorcyclists are Harley riders (or wannabees). The AMA is for them — they pay to belong and pay for the lobbyists who make it possible for them to ride helmet-free and to make loud noises with their loud pipes.
      It’s all about “lifestyle” (and ‘hair’, or ‘cowboys’, or ‘???’)

      • Dean says:

        Must not be an AMA member…

        I just want to clarify the AMA is AGAINST loud pipes, and actively advocates sound checks. An appropraite sound check they endorse still allows for freedom of customization, while keeping the government from passing stupid laws like California just did (after a certain model year, all motorcycles must display a Fed EPA stamp… doesn’t matter is you drilled the baffles out).

        • clete says:

          THE AMA was in favor of changing the rules of flat track racing in the 80′s to make sure harley won. Whomever drops the most cash wins, enought said!

  30. grebmrof says:

    Just amazing that anyone rides without a helmet or smokes cigarettes, etc, etc. Never underestimate the stupidity of mankind to push the limits. I guess the AMA supporting the freedom to go helmetless is one of the prime reasons that I rejected renewing my AMA membership years ago. That and their nonstance on loud pipes did it for me. Ask some ex-NFL players about what they think about helmets and you might rethink helmets usage or maybe even riding motorcycles… For me, I’ll continue to ride and wear a FFH and other protective gear.

  31. Paisanoracer says:

    Even though I have suspicions when it comes to government intrusion on civil liberties, in this case I’m inclined to see helmet laws as a good example of riders kept from being ‘ a danger to themselves’ because of a good old-fashion lack common sense (which isn’t always that common) when it comes to personal safety. Riding motorcycles is an inherently dangerous activity, especially when considering how we’re treated by many drivers in cars. It runs from indifference and ignorance (“I just didn’t see that motorcycle when I pulled out”) to twisted folks who find perverted pleasure in intentionally harassing riders. I don’t want to worry about one more potential problem when I ride. My mind is already occupied in the business of staying alert.

  32. kawzies says:

    Not wearing a helmet is exactly like smoking cigarettes. Everyone knows doing either might kill you, but they do it anyway. I just feel sorry for the wives, husbands, kids, and parents of those who will die unnecessarily. But cigarettes are legal everywhere. Riding helmetless isn’t. It’s kind of disturbing to see motorcycling singled out. Therefore imho they shouldn’t make it a law. However…….you gotta be a complete idiot to ride without a FF helmet. Do it for your family!!!!!!

  33. donniedarko says:

    An asinine argument… no helmet: fine they should pay a higher insurance premium, to offset my higher avg costs.

    • jack says:

      +1

      I agree completely! While everyone should have the right to make the decision on there own those who choose not to wear at least a DOT approved helmet should have to pay for higher avg. costs.

    • Muck says:

      And you and all your buddies should pay an extra premium for eating at McDonald’s.

      We can argue helmets all day long but I guarantee you, there is more people that die everyday from eating all the junk food than riding a motorcycle helmet-lesstla,.

      • Falcopilot says:

        LOL!! But if all of the people who ate junk food everyday also rode motorcycles without helmets…………..

        Silly comparison.

  34. Rich says:

    Everyone pays taxes; some do not pay the income tax but if you earn income you pay FICA and Medicare taxes for sure. Why start this idiotic sort of rant? Sheesh.

  35. sherm says:

    If someone wasn’t aware of the “freedom” issue they might conclude that the purpose of all this noise and politicking to eliminate helmet laws is to reduce helmet use. And by that measure alone the effort is great success. Repeal a state’s mandatory helmet law and helmet use drops by 40 to 50 percent. Probably close to 90% for H-D riders.

    I think most riders assume that it is safer to ride with a helmet that without one, and there is no shortage of Google available scientific and professional data to back that up. So why do some elements of the motorcycling community, including the AMA (which mandates helmet use in all their competitive events), work so hard to reduce helmet use.

    New riders typically do some practice, take their test, and go by a bike. They don’t study the literature about helmet safety. If they are in a non-mandatory state, when they look around they see all those cool guys and girls going helmetless. This is their new peer group and riding without a helmet just seems natural if most everyone else is doing it. (Just about everyone else on a hot summer day.)

    I live in a mandatory state and I’ve ridden plenty in the other kind, and I’ll be damned if I can spot more “freedom” in one or the other. But I sure can spot a lot of riders taking bigger safety risks just because a bunch of other riders do it. Helmets save lives and reduce brain injuries. Reducing helmet use does the opposite.