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Why Helmet Laws Shouldn’t Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. Ryan D says:

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

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

    • Deedadee says:

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

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

      • Ryan D says:

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

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

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

    • Dannytheman says:

      On dirt I wear a helmet!!

  2. Gummee says:

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

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

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

  3. kpaul says:

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

    • Zuki says:

      It’s not a question of helmets offering protection, it’s about whether or not there should be a law enforcing helmet use. Rugby players don’t wear helmets or even protective pads… just a thought.

      Baseball fans can get bats and balls in their face, and hockey fans can get hockey pucks launched at them. Should there be a law that requires these particular spectators to wear a helmet too?

    • Dannytheman says:

      You must ride like a madman!! Are you having full contact riding? People throwing or hitting baseballs at you while you ride? We used to play baseball all the time with no batting helmets behind my house, it was organized ball that MADE us wear helmets!!

  4. Rock says:

    Out of interest D, which sled do you ride?

    • Dannytheman says:

      I have a 2010 BMW R 1200 RT. 18,000 miles.
      I have a 2005 HD FLHTI 51,000 miles.
      I have a 1981 Gold Wing. 136,000 miles.

      • Rock says:

        Very nice.

        If l had taken your lead I’d have some very nice machines from past eras in the garage.
        Unfortunately they ended up being traded in.

        TYou tke care of your scon. 🙂

  5. johnny ro says:


  6. kirk66 says:

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

    • Rock says:

      So Kirk.

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

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

      What will you do?

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

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

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

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

      • Justin says:

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

        • Rock says:

          Sorry if I read into it J.

          Agreed that uninsured should have to pay.

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

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

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

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

        • Rock says:

          Just wondered Justin.

          What did Kirk mean about “no aliens allowed”?

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

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

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

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            He said “no liens”. Any financial help offered by Martians is perfectly acceptable.

  7. Doug says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

      • Jeremy in TX says:

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

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

        • Dannytheman says:

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

    • Rock says:

      Said like a Lemming.

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

      You have absolutely no real awareness of what you say.

      It’s just a cliche.

  8. KAWZIES says:

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

  9. Cameron says:

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

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

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

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

    • Rock says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Crippling costs and an unacceptable toll will.

    • Dannytheman says:

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

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

      Sheeple like you get eaten, the strong survive!

      • kpaul says:

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

        • steve says:

          stewart & colbert…. that explains a lot…. sheep

          • Dannytheman says:

            Kinda like the scientist that lead us to Global warming? Or is it Cooling? I mean Climate Change….
            Kpaul, your left wing progressive skirt is showing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’

          • Just Joe says:

            Steve you just can’t hurl enough petty insults on this forum can you?
            Once again, proving a point to anyone with eyes open.
            Sheep indeed…

      • Steve says:

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

        • steve says:

          Just Joe….this is the “other” steve…

          I’m the one that hurls insults 🙂

  10. Rock says:

    It can only happen in America.

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

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

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

    • Jeremy in TX says:

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

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

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

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

      • Rock says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        • Jeremy in TX says:

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

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

      • Rock says:

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

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

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

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

        What kind of freedom is that?

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

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

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

      • Rock says:

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

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

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

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

        Thy are genetically wired to take risks.

  11. Zuki says:

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

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

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

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

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

  12. lesmeister says:

    Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Insurance

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

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

      • kpaul says:

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

        • Dannytheman says:

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

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

          • LarryC says:

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

          • Seth says:

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

            Same argument.

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

          • kpaul says:

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

          • Jeremy in TX says:

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

          • Cameron says:

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

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

  13. Norm G. says:

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

    • kpaul says:

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

      • Dannytheman says:

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

        • Norm G. says:

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

          • Dannytheman says:

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

  14. Montana says:

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

  15. Tom Shields says:

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

  16. Markus says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

      No I don’t!! I don’t wear a helmet on the Honda or the BMW either What’s your snappy comeback now? I only paid 15K for my Harley! Markus is a bigot!

  17. KillerRC51 says:

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

  18. donniedarko says:

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

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

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

    ride safe guys

    • kpaul says:

      +1 donniedarko

      • Dannytheman says:

        Don’t be a sheeple!! I always ride safe. Over 270,000 miles without a scratch!

        • Bob says:

          I’m sure philip Contos thought he was always a safe rider too. Apparently not. If he knew what he was doing, when he had to stop suddenly, he wouldn’t have fishtailed from stomping on his rear brake. That’s how fishtails happen. He should have used his front brake and stayed upright and likely stopped in a much shorter distance, avoiding being thrown off onto his head.

        • LarryC says:

          Wow, 10k just since your last post. Impressive.

          • Dannytheman says:

            I had to look in my journal which I keep across the multiple bikes I own. At 267,381 after riding to work and back on Monday, I rounded up. Sorry if I confused you. You guys are jumping on any issue you can find. I assume you have a journal for maintenance reasons right??

    • Dannytheman says:

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

      • steve says:

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

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

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

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

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


      • kpaul says:

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

        • Dannytheman says:

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

          • steve says:

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

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

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

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

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

  19. kpaul says:

    Philip Contos in death may have a huge impact but not in the way he would want…This story was played all over the country with the main stream media including on the very funny Bill Mahr show on HBO… I love his take

    • Dannytheman says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Steve says:

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

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

        BAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaa…BAAAAAAAAAA (sheep)

  20. Tom says:

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

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

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

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

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

    • kpaul says:

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

      • Marc says:

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

    • Rock says:


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

      That is until you started to detail your argument.

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

  21. john welch says:

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

  22. navek says:

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

    • Thoppa says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

  23. Lynchenstein says:

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

    • Foogunheimer says:

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

      • Dannytheman says:

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

        • Foogunheimer says:

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

          • Dannytheman says:

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

  24. mr_dirtrider says:

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

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

  25. Milt McNally says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  26. Tim C says:

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

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

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

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

  27. Norm G. says:

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

  28. Tanya says:

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

  29. marsjo says:

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

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

  30. Morgan says:

    dress for the crash not the ride

  31. Dannytheman says:

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

    • Davis says:

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

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

      • Dannytheman says:

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

        • Maxified says:

          You mean you never needed a helmet YET!

        • Davis says:

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

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

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

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

          Ride on, be safe.

          • Dannytheman says:

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

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

          • falcodoug says:

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

    • Bob says:

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

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

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

      • Dannytheman says:

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

    • kpaul says:

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

      • Dannytheman says:

        I’m not afraid to go into the kitchen, Kpaul! I have tried almost every make and model! Nothing is as cool as a wet dew rag!! I do own a couple helmets, I need them for the less than 50% of the States that require me to wear them.

  32. Scorch says:

    Serious riders always wear helmets. Simple as that.

  33. JC says:

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

  34. Jim says:

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

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

    • Jimmy Whitten says:

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

  35. Steve says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

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

  36. SnyRichard says:

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

  37. Bob says:

    Re: skydivng and mountain climbing examples being dangerous

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • shane says:

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

      • shane says:

        Lets try that second sentence again: Many of us use a motorcycle as a practical means of conveyance, not simply for recreation.

  38. shane says:

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

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

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

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

  39. Luke E says:

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

  40. Gene says:

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

  41. roughcut says:

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

  42. PN says:

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

    • Bob says:

      I ride without pants to attract females.

      But I always wear my helmet.

      • Roadrash1 says:

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

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

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

  43. Art says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

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

      • Maxified says:

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

      • JR says:

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

        • Dannytheman says:

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

  44. falcodoug says:

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

  45. Todd says:

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

    • Dannytheman says:

      They make this new thing, I think they stole the idea from a cage, it’s called a windshield! But I would fight for your right to wear a helmet!

  46. DancingWeasel says:

    I think the reason people don’t wear a helmet is just laziness. On a hot day I sometimes find it irksome, but still wear it, and would without compulsion. I don’t see why we have laws about it though – smoking (and many other things) kill far more people, yet there are no laws about it. Repeal the laws, and let natural selection take it’s course…

    • bikerrandy says:

      If you don’t already wear a modular(flip-up) helmet, you should consider it. When you stop for gas, etc. you just have to flip it open and get a drink, more air to your face, instead of having to take it off. On a trip(if nothing else) it makes fuel stops far more convenient. We have Nolan modular helmets and are very satisfied with them.

  47. KRay says:

    +1 Wear a full face helmet, it’s as clear as a cloudless night sky. This is one of the best written pieces I have read on the subject, well done.

  48. vaso says:

    The argument about how many lives are saved or lost is absolutely irrelevant here. What right does someone else have to force me to wear helmet?
    If one finds not wearing helmet stupid – fine, it’s their choice, they are free to wear it. They may well be right, but that does not mean they have the right to force their opinion on others.
    It’s like I read somewhere about Obama telling stories that he used to do public works as a kid and benefited very much from it. That’s fine, but then he goes on to opine that a “law” should be passed so that all kids do public works.
    That’s the reason why law is not respected anymore. Only natural laws are real laws (property rights, prohibition of violence etc), but those messy mega-collections of millions of stupid regulations are rather violations of laws.

  49. bikerrandy says:

    You can take the horse to the trough but you can’t make it drink. Let these idiots ride as they wish and it will help keep the current Social Security in operation.

    I’ve been riding for 47 years and realized I needed helmet protection before there were ANY laws requiring it. Helmets have protected my face/head in accidents. End of discussion.

  50. Gabe says:

    Thanks for a great discussion and for reading my story, MD-ers.

    I do regret that some posters seemed to have missed the point of my story and feel compelled to tell us why they are against helmet laws. I did not write it to state a position for or against helmet laws. I wrote it to underscore how important it is to wear a full-face helmet every time you ride. Ignore the debate on helmet laws. The only reason you could possibly care is so you can ride helmetless–but why on earth would you want to?

    • Thoppa says:


      People risk their lives climbing mountains for no other reason than they want to. You don’t need to understand this to see it is true. They know the dangers and use all the necessary safety equipment, yet they still die doing it.

      Riding motorcycle is dangerous even if you wear all the safety gear imaginable, yet people still do it. We all do it. Not wearing a helmet increases some aspects of the risk, but essentially the basic risks are the same.

      There are many things in life that can kill and having seen people die long slow torturous deaths from cancer, I’d rather my nut got split on a kerb. Unfortunately, I am much more likely to die of heart disease, cancer, liver damage, etc.

      There are valid reasons for not wearing a helmet which your article and subsequent comment seem to refuse to accept. There are also less important reasons like the ‘just because I want to’.

      So in answer to your why on earth….why the hell not ? Woody Allen said something like you could live to be a hundred if you quit everything that would make you want to live to be a hundred.

      Live and let live.

      • paso100 says:


      • kpaul says:

        -1 What are those “valid” reasons again? I am not aware of any scientific evidence that wearing a helmet causes any negative safety issues. In fact all evidence points to the opposite that a full-face helmet will save your life and will prevent serious head, facial, and jaw injuries. The whole Woody Allen argument is just stupid. It’s about reasonable risk. Skydivers minimize their risks by having backup chutes and wearing the proper gear. Race car and motorcycle racers minimize their risk by wearing safety gear. The risk of injury by not wearing safety gear far out weighs the reward of not. It’s all about reasonable risk.

        • Thoppa says:

          Well precisely, you hit the nail on the head – and people don’t agree about what is reasonable, so everyone has to agree to disagree. You are not going to change my mind and neither do I expect to change yours. I’m here to tell people to leave each other alone; to live and let live.

          Valid reasons ? Well, do you ride a bicycle ? Do you wear a full face helmet to do it ? Why not ? So if I’m on a 50cc scooter on a quiet village road going 1km to a market, do you think I should wear a full face lid, gloves, etc ? I hope you see that each of us has to assess risk – that’s what a skilled rider does all the time they are on the road to avoid a potential accident. If the risk is no greater than riding a bicycle, is a full face helmet necessary ?

          Ever been so uncomfortable that it was distracting and reduced your concentration ? A significant proportion of accidents occur because people aren’t fully paying attention to the road ahead. I’d bet that was the cause in the accident for the poor bloke who died on an anti-helmet law rally. It is accidents that kill. Helmets do not prevent accidents. They simply increase the chances of survival – far better not to crash in the first place right ? That takes skill, experience, training, etc, and, yes, sometimes it is just luck. So okay, if you think you’re unlucky, or a crap rider, wear a lid.

          I am all for people just accepting that, when the law allows, they decide for themselves about the gear they wear, and one biker doesn’t start preaching to another about how reckless they are. We just wind each other up. The debate changes nothing. We are all so reckless we got on a bike in the first place. How come we don’t all drive cars ? I’m sure you’ve heard the argument that when someone becomes a parent they give up taking risks like riding because thay shouldn’t leave their partner a widow and their kids orphans. Yet parents don’t do what is ‘sensible’.

          I wear a full face lid about 80% of the time, an open face about 19%, and then every now again, I ride with no helmet. I’m middle-aged, fully-insured, single, no kids and ugly enough that a lid improves my looks. So why should I be preached to and accept it ?

          Instead of focusing on that, we should be focusing on reducing accidents with improved riding skills an awareness.

        • Thoppa says:

          My reply has been removed.

    • riley says:

      I don’t smoke or skydive. too dangerous. why would anyone want to. lets outlaw it.

  51. Thoppa says:

    I have a question – are turban-wearing Sikhs exempt from helmet laws in the US ? They are in many other countries and do not have to wear hard hats on construction sites. Does this make them stupid ?

    I also don’t understand the comments that say “others can choose but only if I don’t have to pay for it.” AFAIK most accidents are caused by car drivers so surely the car driver would have to pay for it in most cases ? Given the small number of accidents that involve riders without a helmet where the rider is to blame, wouldn’t this cost be actually very small to any one individual – just a few cents ? Are people so mean they wouldn’t give a fellow biker a few cents ?

    By the way, I haven’t found anywhere hot, humid and over-developed enough in the US where it would be necessary to remove a helmet for safety reasons, but I have in India and south-east Asia.

    I favor using a full face lid and I’m quite happy to have a law enforcing it, with the proviso that it can be removed when circumstances at the time mean that the lid is a disadvantage. However, this scenario seems unlikely, so I prefer no law and to rely on my own experience and desire for self-preservation to work it out.

    The US is, afaik, one of the few countries that still gives riders that choice.

    • Tim says:

      We all pay for it, whether it be in the form of increased insurance rates (because our insurance company has been stuck with head injury claims for accidents caused by other people they insure) and when the insurance proceeds run out, we don’t give these vegetables a lethal injection, the government pays for it. I don’t know if any of you have been in the hospital recently, but my wife just spent 3.5 days and with various tests I fully anticipate a bill in the neighborhood of $100,000. Now suppose someone is in a vegetative state, and spends years in hospitals or health care facilities. Trust me when I say when spread out over millions of people, it is still not cheap. Health care costs are killing this country. While motorcycle related head injuries are just a small part of that cost, I’m sure it is a measurable cost. It is a cost that we who choose to do the smart thing, and wear helmets, should not have to bare.

      • Thoppa says:

        Would you feel the same way if you hit a patch of diesel on a corner, lost control, and went under an oncoming bus ?

  52. Tim says:

    If some people didn’t need protected from their own stupidity, we wouldn’t need helmet laws. As long as society ends up footing many of the bills for head injuries, we have a right to insist on helmet laws. Not to mention the fact that many families lose loved ones who were not wearing a helmet. I have friends who have families who are scared to death that they’re going to bite it because they don’t wear a helmet. Innocent people end up paying the price, with the loss of a loved one. I’m all for freedoms, as long as peoples’ stupid decisions don’t affect others. In this case, those decisions affect everyone.

    Otherwise, I’d say let the idiots weed themselves out, just like Darwin’s survival of the fittest suggests.

  53. yazidoff says:

    Where I live, full-face helmets used to be illegal. Until the local HOG chapter managed to lobby for it. How about that..

  54. KnightroExpress says:

    Education is what makes a difference here, not legislation. I don’t care that I’m not mandated to wear a full-face helmet; I wear one because I know if something unexpected happens, it will (hopefully) keep my brain inside my skull, and pavement away from my face. If someone doesn’t care enough about their own health, that’s their problem. Teaching the benefits of proper protective gear is much more effective than imposing these requirements without any explanation other than “it’s the law”.

  55. JPJ says:

    There isn’t a need for this argument, just as there isn’t a need for mandatory helmet laws. Seatbelt laws ? How many times a day will a cop turn a blind eye to those not wearing one ? Ride by the same policeman without a helmet ( if required ) and guess what happens ? He / She will turn around and pull you over 99% of the time

  56. Foogunheimer says:

    People sure get upset when they pass a law advocating safety. They feel offended that the state would care for their health. Mr. Contos on his protest ride proved the state’s point that a helmet is a good thing, just like seat belts and air bags. It’s for your own good and the only reason helmet laws exist is because some folks are too DUMB to realize that a helmet will prevent serious head injuries or death, even at low speeds. Argue the law all you want, but you can’t argue the fact that no one in professional racing would go without a helmet even if it wasn’t madatory. Your skull is no match for the hard pavement. Just ask Indian Larry.

  57. butch says:

    Looks like Michigan is repealing their mandatory helmet law, in spite of tons of work and educational effort by a group called SMARTER ( They can expect a large increase in youth deaths, along with older riders, as a result. Wonderful accomplishment.

    In these economic times these lawmakers focus on repealing a helmet law!? That’s their crowning achievement? How these politicians can cave to such a tiny minority of self-serving ABATE folks (ie. “look at me, how cool I am” types) and accept that their state will pay millions (billions?) of additional dollars in future medical payments is really confusing. Defies logic.

    Too bad Cantos (in his fifties) “hardcore” biker died. A dead motorcyclist is only more disturbing when it happens to the young riders that ride lidless because they can’t make a rational choice, but the “cool” one. The younger ones are the most protected by helmet laws in my opinion. But on that subject, the younger riders are screwed anyhow. Who are the new riders’ role models anyway? Sure ain’t the Aerostich guys…

    • Bob says:

      “Who are the new riders’ role models anyway? Sure ain’t the Aerostich guys…”

      ICON. Gear choice of the thugs.

  58. McGoober says:

    I would personally love to see full face helmets as mandatory as seat belts… How many of you don’t like wearing seat belts? They impair movement and aren’t comfortable… how is a helmet any different from a seat belt in a cage? There isn’t. I am a ATGATT rider and from Texas (though I live in California atm where helmets are mandatory). I have ridden long distances in 100+ degree weather. I still will not wear anything less than full gear and a full face helmet. Granted thats my choice but I will not go on a ride without someone wearing full gear. I don’t care how much of a choice it is and all of that BS… I won’t help you kill yourself.

  59. Bud says:

    Anyone who rides a motorcycle and doesn’t wear a helmet is just plain stupid,IMNSHO.

  60. ncc says:

    Several years ago before helmets became mandatory here in CA I witnessed a biker’s very low-speed accident in downtown LA. Turning at a light he hit the curb at maybe 15mph max and down he went. He landed all of about a foot away from his overturned sportster and the only visible damage to the bike was a broken mirror….if the guy had worn a helmet he’d have ended the evening out a $40 mirror and with a slightly bruised ego. But he wasn’t wearing a helmet and when his head hit the ground it split wide open and he died. Forget about the over-bearing nanny state, alleged hearing/vision issues, looking cool, or going helmetless being ok because you have medical insurance….it just plain isn’t worth the risk.

  61. Gummee says:

    Y’know… If you’re not smart enough to figure out that wearing a helmet’s in your own best interest, maybe you *should* be told. After all, sticking knives into outlets as a kid seemed like great fun, no? Mom obviously didn’t think so. Same same with helmets.

    I’m only partly exaggerating here

  62. Bob says:

    Back in the late ’90s, when I was heavily involved in mountain bike racing and paid a lot of attention to gear, reviews and other pertinent information, I actually learned something about head injuries.

    1st, it was stated in a report that in ’95, the average cost of a head injury was $75,000. Notice I said average cost. So that means anything from geting a couple stitches for a cut up to a cracked skull and brain hemmorhage and anything in between. So, let’s say between $100 to $1,000,000 range.

    2nd, gravity does a lot more damage than people think. At 9.8 m/s/s, falling over while at a standstill can crack open a skull, cause a concussion and even result in death. The stats are out there. Gravity from 5 or 6 ft is significant in a fall. Moreso than speed going down the road. As a former club racer, I can attest that more people have been seriously injured from the 5 mph tumble at the end of their slide down the track than from the 120 mph they started sliding at.

    As for the rights part…driving was deemed a right by the supreme court however there are conditions on that right. You must obey all traffic laws is one of those conditions. So is mandatory liability insurance. Sounds more like a privilege when you add conditions to the equation. After all, this is a right that can be revoked on an individual basis. If it were truly a right, we would be able to go 130 mph, run stop lights, etc all day long and not risk ever losing our license, going to jail, etc.

    As a driver of a 4 wheeled vehicle, we are required to wear seatbelts. This is one of those conditions as well. If the government can mandate seatbelt usage, why can they not mandate helmet usage without lots of complaining? They can use the same reasoning they did for seatbelts. If it isn’t a viable reason, then maybe they need to remove the seatbelt mandate for consistency.

    I remember the excuses that were made for not wearing seatbelts…they’re uncomfortable, I feel restricted, it wrinkles my clothes, blah, blah… I have yet to meet an uncomfortable and restrictive seatbelt in 26 years of driving other than a 5 point used in racing. Wrinkled clothes? Whaaaaaa!!!

    Helmets, spend the money on one that fits properly and has adaquate venting and all is well. I’ve never worn one that restricted my vision. In fact, every helmet I’ve worn in 25 years has improved my vision and my hearing while riding. At 80 mph, I don’t have excess wind making my eyes water nor do I have excess wind noise overpowering and drowning out other sounds that may be really important to my well being. So a helmet isn’t just something that can protect you in a crash, it can help you avoid crashing in the first place.

    • kpaul says:

      +1 well said Bob

    • e-bob says:

      Hard to add anything that can top this reasoning. But I would like to add that I find it ironic that ABATE sponsors MSF riding courses here in Colorado (which I greatly appreciate!), as well as organizing Accident Scene Management classes that are “Designed to reduce injuries & fatalities through First Response Education.” However, when it comes to helmet laws they apparently behave like the NRA does toward any legislation that might limit gun use in any way. I own guns and helmets, and while I don’t feel I need laws to use them responsibly, it’s easy to find evidence of those who do.

    • paso100 says:

      So, you’re in support of a law that mandates wearing a helmet due to safety concerns, but then admit you break the law by speeding. It seems you like to choose what laws you follow and what laws you want everybody else to follow. This is just one of the problems with ne’er-do-well legislation: if people decide they don’t like a law, they simple choose to ignore it.

      • Bob says:

        Who said anything about breaking the law by speeding? I guess you don’t realize there are plenty of places in the USA where the posted limit is 80 mph. That aside, I’ve done 177 mph on the circuit and 219 on the Bonneville salt flats. Once again, at those ridiculous speeds I have better vision and hearing with the helmet on than I would without a helmet. Granted, I’ve never done those speeds without a helmet on. Not allowed in order to compete. But I have done 80 mph without a helmet, 20+ years ago, and my vision and hearing was severely impaired.

  63. Austin says:

    In states with mandatory helmet usage, folks who who only wear a helmet when they “have to” usually wear a beanie or half helmet offering very little protection. It can be argued that helmet laws don’t affect this group.

    OTOH, folks who wear FF in those same states, probably wear that FF helmet even when they don’t “have to”. It can be argued that helmet laws don’t affect this group.

    This discussion is mostly pointless. The folks who place a high priority on preventing head injuries wear a FF helmet no matter what. Those who don’t…well, don’t.

  64. Jeremy in TX says:

    Dear Lidless Rider,

    I for one actually support helmet laws, but not because I want to restrict your freedom, protect you from yourself or save society the burden of paying for your medical bills. Those medical bills are a minute burden on such a large and wealthy society, and I am all for strengthening the gene pool by having fools eliminate themselves. And no, I do not believe I have the right to inflict my will on others. I also find laws that dictate choice as bitter and vile.

    I support helmet laws because you threaten the wellbeing of some defenseless members of our society: my kids and yours. Children learn from example and are influenced greatly by peer pressure. If their peers (and parents) like to dress-up like they are going to a Village People audition and wobble around on their 800-pound bikes in large herds with nothing more than doorags for head protection, then those kids will develop a pretty stupid sense of “cool”. Or perhaps you like to impress everyone with your daring by riding around on a 150hp machine in litle more than flip-flops and a swimsuit. Again, you are hurting those you would least want to.

    They say seat belt usage was so successful not because of the laws but because they educated young kids in schools who then apparently guilted their parents into setting the good example they should have been setting all along. It will probably never happen for helmets, but having one’s 8-year-old running up to her mom or dad before a ride begging them to wear a helmet so they could come home to her safely would probably have quite an effect over time.

    I would much prefer a similar attempt to educate children about helmet use rather than establish laws to accomplish this, but it is unlikely to happen. As the author says, unless we as a group make the choices that make such laws irrelevant, then laws are the only tools left on the table to protect the impressionable youth from your irresponsible choices.

    Please remember that you are not just making a choice. You are setting an example to those who are least able to understand the consequenses of choosing poorly.

    • kpaul says:

      Excellent points. Jeremy. Well written. I favor a law that says you can ride without a helmet as long as you have medical insurance. However, your point about being an example to kids is very compelling.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I live in Texas where there is such a law in place (having medical insurance), but it is not enforceable. Nobody asks for proof of current medical insurance. If someone crashes without a helmet, and they don’t have medical insurance or sufficient means to pay the bills, the rest of us still end up paying for it. Again, I don’t really care so much about that. That cost is a relatively small draw on the society as a whole. I am much more interested in building a riding culture that embraces helmets (real helmets) the same way we have done around seatbelts, and I really do wish we could get there WITHOUT legislation.

    • Dean says:

      I agree… It took years for me and my brothers to get my father to wear a helmet by guilt and begging. He used to say, “when it’s my time, it’s my time”.

      Years later, he was run off the road by a drunk driver swerving in his lane. Luckily, he only had a limp from that one, not any head injuries thanks to his helmet, and us kids leaning on him to wear it!

      If you want to change anybody, it has to be peer pressure, not laws.

    • riley says:

      nanny’s favorite slogan: do it “for the children”..

  65. kpaul says:

    Being a fiscal conservative and social liberal (e.g. for a balanced budget, lower taxes and decreased government speeding, pro gay marriage,etc). I favor a riders freedom to not wear a helmet just as long as they have health insurance. Texas and Louisiana have such laws. I don’t mind if people are stupid. However, I just don’t want to pay for their folly. With freedom comes responsibility. If you don’t want a Nanny state (which I don’t) then you must show personal responsibility.

    • warprints says:

      Whoa !! Louisiana amended its helmet law several years ago. There is currently a strict must wear helmet law (except if you obtain a waiver for a parade). DO NOT ride helmetless in Louisiana, even if you have health insurance.

      • kpaul says:

        Sorry my information is wrong and outdated. Thanks wrprints for correcting me

    • steve says:

      where do you get this stuff??

      fiscal conservative and social liberal = oxymoron

      you keep voting for your social liberals (i.e. obamadinejad et al) & see how long motorcycles are available & legal…..

      • Just Joe says:

        Thanks, Steve, for lowering the level of discourse to insults and fear mongering.
        You proved a point, but not the one you think you did.

        • steve says:

          any time “just”… glad I could help!

          you see “just”… I pay attention when I read… otherwise… something important might slip by…

          imo, it’s always better to know where the other person is coming from….

          this site has been invaded by armchair subject matter experts who cannot resist posting whatever effluent bubbles up inside their know-little-or-nothing minds. I’m “just” trying to add context to clarify that 99% of their “opinions” are BS or “just” plain wrong…. there’s no “thought” behind their postings…. it’s all reactive… & only “they” know best… they usually base it on 1 or 2 experiences or worse, hearsay..& then broadbrush the rest of humanity… & there’s no room for compromise either…. they slam the door shut… because… they’re always right….
          reading their rants is a real drag “just”…

          • Just Joe says:

            With all do respect, you seem to have no room for compromise or outside opinion, and you continue to simply be insulting.
            Perhaps you should look within a bit more deeply.

  66. jimbo says:

    I was a firefighter for over 28 years. A co-worker worked a good portion of his career at one of the busiest fire houses in the USA. I was surprised when he told me directly across the dinner table that he never wears his vehicle safety belt because he doesn’t like it.

    I used to believe in most or all of these drug laws and helmet laws, but now lean toward legalizing most personal activities along these lines. As if LE doesn’t have enough to do. To say the system has bitten more than it can chew is a huge understatement.

  67. DingerJunkie says:

    I am completely fine with people choosing not to wear helmets…as long as I have legal/financial protection on two fronts…

    First, I want to know that my liability is not increased in the event of an accident with a helmet-less rider (no-fault state, so even if I didn’t cause it, I pay).

    Second, I want to know that the person riding without a helmet has legally waived all rights to medicare/medicaid services for accident-related injuries, as well as waiving all taxpayer-funded survivor benefits that would be paid due to their stupidity.

    Their liberties end where they impact mine.

    • Tim says:

      Just wondering if you apply these same criteria to smokers, over-eaters, bungee jumpers, etc.

      • DingerJunkie says:

        …I wish I could, Tim. People should pay for their own choices…price of liberty. Smokers, scuba divers and professional racers pay more for insurance for a reason. I wish I didn’t need to pay for the heathcare costs of those who intentionally take those risks.

        I want them to be able to do these things to their heart’s content…just don’t make me pay for them.

  68. Dean says:

    There are only two kinds of riders. Those who are going to crash, and those who already crash (and then they join the first group again).

    As you said, you never plan a crash, and you don’t have to be going far or fast to crash. Wearing a decent helmet just makes sense to anybody who has any respect for themselves and their loved ones.

    Helmet laws are ridiculous because they have spawned the “beanie” helmets that don’t offer any real protection unless you happen to crash on your head in a completely vertical position. As long as they have a DOT rating, they are “protection”.

    I wear a full face helmet because it makes sense. I wear my seatbelts in a car because it makes sense. I don’t want the Gubment writing any more laws than they have to, because they suck at writing laws!

  69. Mondo Endo says:

    The right to be stupid doesnt mean its a good idea.

  70. kpaul says:

    Harley riders take note: I have been down two times. One low side and one dramatic over the handle bars high side at 40-50 mph. Each time I hit my head. When I high sided I hit the front of my helmet and slid across the road on my face. Each time I had a full face Shoei helmet. My helmet looked much like the picture in the article. The EMTs who arrived on the seen sad that my full face helmet saved my life. They said that in WA state which has a mandatory helmet law the problem is half head Harley type helmets. They said that folks don’t seem to get that most times you are going to hit your face or the front of your head. Indeed, a German safety study confirmed that with data.

    • kpaul says:

      Ooops Should read “The EMTs who arrived on the scene said that my full face helmet saved my life.

    • kpaul says:

      k-obsession is treatable Steve. With the right drugs and therapist you can be helped. 🙂 I would suggest you spend the money on a good full-face and discontinue use of the ineffective 1/2 and 3/4. One nice comfortable full-face helmet is much better than 3 mediocre helmets. Especially when 2 just don’t work. It’s also more cost effective and better use of your money and our resources. Of course if you don’t make your living with your brain like I do just ignore my advice 🙂

  71. McRider says:

    It is a known fact, that the most dangerous times for motorcyclists to be on the road are Friday and Saturday nights. Why don’t we prohibit riding from 3pm on Fridays to 6am on Sundays? This law will save thousands of lives! Or, why don’t we require everyone to wear full protection: racing-grade leathers, boots and gloves? How are any of these two proposed laws different from requiring a rider to wear a helmet?

    • Dean says:

      Exactly… That is why we don’t want any more laws on the books. They just don’t know how to write them, or take them too far, or have too many loopholes…

      F-cking lawyers should not be allowed to be politicians.

  72. Vrooom says:

    What I get a kick out of is when I’m touring in a non-helmet law state, and riders come over to tell you that you don’t have to wear that helmet. Like somehow if only I knew the long arm of the law wasn’t weighing on me I wouldn’t be wearing it. Helmets don’t guarantee surviving a crash, just like parachutes don’t guarantee surviving jumping out of a plane, but I’d sure rather have one when the time comes.

  73. Tim says:

    Why I choose to ride without a helmet (I NEVER do, btw.) should be nobody’s bloody business.
    All the arguments FOR helmet laws (emergency care cost to the public, etc) are pure BS. As TRonymous said, motorcycling accidents are a tiny drop in the ocean of unnatural, unnecessary deaths in the US. The number of fatalities from smoking, alcoholism, and obesity is several orders of magnitude higher (don’t believe me? ask any doctor!), and yet, no efforts are made to ban cheeseburgers or bourbon. If I am free to eat unhealthy food, and kill my liver with ethanol, why is my freedom to crack my skull being infringed upon?
    There is as much common sense in helmet laws as in riding without a helmet.

    • Tom R says:

      Actually, I believe that the city of San Francisco IS trying to ban cheeseburgers.

      • Tim says:

        when they do, we’ll talk.

      • Gabe says:

        And you are wrong. You may be referring to the Board of Supervisors banning giving away toys with high-calorie children’s meals at fast-food chains. There is a ballot initiative to ban circumcision, though.

  74. Dave says:

    I have ridden many miles in the hot summer months all over the USA. I have never had sweat running into my eyes so bad that it would impair my vision. The padding of my helmet has always taken care of that. I have had to take the padding of my ARAI out and wash it but the padding has never allowed the sweat to run in my eyes. I think some of the arguements against helmets would be solved if people woould buy a high Qaulity helmet with a proper fit. that said I always wear my helmet but I am not for helmet laws. I think the general publis being forced to wear seatbelts in cars makes them much more less tolerant of riders saying it should be individual choice.

  75. Stinky says:

    I usually wear a helmet, BUT, I fall into the short ride, don’t feel like carrying it around, can’t leave it on the bike for it WILL be stolen. I usually ride my bicycle helmetless, and the times I’m on a bike helmetless is about the same speed.
    The Cruiser Boys give me crap for riding my bike with shorts or tennies until I point out their lack of helmet. I don’t put on boots and leather to ride my bicycle to the store for a backpack of stuff and don’t for a motorcycle either. I might keep another bicycle helmet in the garage for riding my bike to the store,library etc. now that I think about it.

  76. Glen says:

    Philip Contos did more for helmet advocacy in that one ride then a thousand protest rides to ban helemt laws.

  77. Tom Shields says:

    I wear a full face helmet EVERY time I ride. I keep the one from about 10 years ago that sacrificed itself for my skull; I surely would have suffered at least a concussion without it.

    Frankly I don’t understand riding without one. It drastically increases the risk of injury IF an accident occurs; and beyond that, it’s much less comfortable to ride without one. (Yes, I tried it once just to understand the attraction). Without a helmet the wind noise is deafening, road debris, bugs, and cigarette butts pepper your face, and the wind makes your eyes tear up constantly – or dry out – even with sunglasses on. I would not like to get smacked by a grasshopper at legal highway speeds, much less the grackle that bounced off the side of my helmet on one ride.

    I don’t believe it’s the government’s role to correct stupidity. But I reserve the right to call a spade a spade, and riding helmetless is stupid.

  78. Asterix says:

    I’m a mature adult and no man or state has the right or the responsibility to tell me how to live my life if I’m not infringing on anyone else’s rights.

    Whether it’s a good idea to wear a helmet or not has absolutely zero bearing on whether it should be illegal to ride without one. I wear a helmet every time I ride – and with rare execptions, an armored jacket, gloves, pants and boots – but things like helmet laws not only waste goverment and LE time, they criminalize an innocent populace.

    If I ask “Why should a total stranger being dumb bother you?” and your response is some form of “because some other total stranger will pass a law restricting my life or making me pay for the first stranger’s idiocy” then, really, your problem isn’t with the first idiot, it’s with the second one.

  79. steves says:

    I rode to Arizona (100+ degree temps) recently, where those 18 and over don’t need a lid. Even on short trips to the supermarket I couldn’t make myself go without a lid and gloves. It would be like riding naked! Anyway, using the stated statistic that “most crashes happen on city streets, at speeds under 30 mph” to justify always wearing a helmet would also obviate the need to get in full dress leathers, right? Spending five minutes gearing up for a five minute, sub 30 mph trip on a hot day is not likely for this rider.

  80. Tom says:

    Helmet saved my life last year when I got hit by a car and ragged dolled over the hood when it T-boned me turning left into my path. Landed on the left side of my head and the helmet did an amazing job of absorbing the impact. Broken left arm was better than long term head injury or death. I was on a bicycle…

    It’s funny how the H-D riders wear $400 dollars of leather gear and no helmet and the c-rockets kids wear $400 dollar helmets and no gear.


  81. arr2 says:

    “So I can say, confidently, that helmet laws don’t affect me. Why?”

    Do you buy insurance to cover you and your bike?

    • DingerJunkie says:

      agreed…extend comment elsewhere in the thread. Others can be stupid as long as I’m not bound to pay for their stupidity, or for the impact of their stupidity upon their family.

  82. Josh B. says:

    There’s always Illinois — where all you need is “eye protection” on a motorcycle, yet you legally MUST have a bicycle helmet… This state is so back-@$$words, it isn’t even funny anymore…

    • Steve says:

      yeah… how stupid is that! Same thing with little kids… they MUST wear a helmet when riding their bicycle but Skippy doesn’t need a helmet to ride his 187 mph ninja…..

      Pass the crack pipe please!

  83. Kmac says:

    It has been said there are two types of riders, those who have been down and those who will. I’ve been down, vaulting over the handle bars flying face first into a concrete curb — hard. Result: scratches on the mouth guard of my TourStar and a mildly mashed lower lip. Without my full-face helmet: broken jaw, eating through a straw for a few weeks, probably four less incisors and the commensurate lengthy, painful and expensive dental work.

    I’ll keep the hat, thanks.

  84. Thoppa says:

    I have ridden bikes all over the world and in many different climates. In cool and wet climates I want a full face lid. However, there have been times in tropical climes at slow speeds in heavily congested cities when the sweat ran down my face so much that it got in my eyes so I couldn’t see properly. Removing the lid allowed air to flow much better and eliminated the sweat problem. An open face lid also worked but not quite as well.

    I’ve been stopped by Police in Indonesia who asked me how far I was going on my scooter. They don’t think a helmet is necessary to pop to the market for some fruit, but insisted I wear one to go to the next village. I agree with this wholeheartedly; they apply the law in a sane way.

    Full face lids, just like full leathers and lots of other ‘sensible’ stuff aren’t always the best choice and unfortunately laws don’t allow people to think for themselves, and often Police don’t allow any flexibility either because they think they must enforce the law rather than apply discretion.

    There is definitely an argument for flexibility and education, rather than legislation.

    • Thoppa says:

      I forgot to say that according to the Police I met in Indonesia, most serious accidents happen on the roads between towns so that is why they told me I must wear one.

      I should also point out that France is passing, or has passed, a law making hi-viz clothing mandatory. If that goes through, then it could become law throughout Europe and then very quickly get adopted by some states in the US too.

      Next up, engine power restrictions….

  85. steve says:

    Gabe… I ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding regardless of what the laws of the state I am in are….

    I disagree with your statement “although my suspicion is that it has to do with the orthodoxy of the Harley-Davidson-oriented cruiser culture”…

    I think your “suspicion” is WRONG (as stated below by another poster) & you singling out H-D without facts (numbers/statistics) is inexcusable…

    But I can overlook that too…

    The question is “should there be mandatory helmet laws” & I think the answer is “yes” (& I currently ride a Harley). I think the over-the-top PC atmosphere we live in has choked the common sense out of every politician, the media, a ton of “regular” people & even the AMA. C’mon… by riding a motorcycle, we are much more likely to die or be hurt by our own mistakes or by another drivers’ (car). Can’t argue with that! & if you are in an accident, the possibility of death or severe injury is very high since we are out in the open with little or no protection. This issue (in my opinion) is no different than the legal reefer issue… everyone is saying it won’t hurt you, etc… & it will probably become legal to smoke pot…. OK…. why not heroin???

    As a society, we need to either make everything legal (no helmets, drugs, etc… ) or use some common sense & make laws… but this “in the middle” ain’t working.

    • Samizdat says:

      I am all for using common sense to make our laws, but that common sense needs to be grounded in fact based evidence (i.e. reality). That’s why using our current drug laws as example of “common sense laws” completely misses the point. Study after study shows that reefer is less harmful to users than alcohol and/or tobacco, yet those are legal and we throw people in jail for possessing a couple ounces of the stuff. Please explain how that’s common sense? Heroin is another subject altogether due to it’s highly destructive and addictive nature, but even there, would it not make more “common sense” to offer addicts treatment instead of throwing them in the slammer while pursuing a highly expensive and ineffective “war on drugs”. I realize this is slightly OT, but if we’re going to advocate for common sense laws….well let’s do stuff that makes sense.

      Getting back to the article, I am in full agreement that helmet laws should be beside the point. Riding a bike is inherently more dangerous than driving, but we do it because it is also inherently much more fun and thrilling. Riding helmetless doesn’t ad anything to the experience, imo, other than make it harder to see any time you go over 35 mph and exposing you to horrific head injury any time you go down. The fact that bike advocacy groups expand so much time and energy protesting against helmet laws instead of making our little obsession more convenient and enjoyable is really aggravating. Well done Gabe.

  86. Ruefus says:

    First – an Arai Astral saved my life. Not maybe, not kind of. Literally allowed me to live.

    Second – I would NEVER vote for a helmet law. You cannot legislate common sense. Riding with a helmet is common sense. If you want to ignore that, fine.

    A quote from Days of Thunder seems to apply:

    “If you two wanna turn yourselves into a greasy spot on a country road somewhere, go right ahead. I don’t give a shit and I don’t think anybody else does, regardless what they say to your face.”

  87. Sidecar12 says:

    I’m 52 years old, have ridden since the age 4…two wheeled(and three wheeled counting the three sidecar rigs I’ve owned, raced motorcycles, taught RiderCourses for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, etc.etc…There is a time and a place for helmets…The point is I SHOULD DECIDE, NOT YOU or ANYONE ELSE…if you don’t understand that then why don’t try telling people what kind of bike they should ride, what football team they should root for, or what type of ice cream they should eat, or how to comb their hair, or maybe you think they should not have hair at all…I feel sorry for self rightous idiologs like you…Why don’t you just put on YOUR “freakin full-face helmet” and mind your own freakin business!

    • Gordon says:

      Agree with you Sidecar12 and I wear my FF helmet 100% of the time.

      Yet another article where Gabe proves himself to be a complete and total t w a t.

  88. Nome says:

    “How do we keep “The Man” off our backs and get helmet laws repealed in 50 states? By getting helmet usage up to 80 percent or better so that the benefits of a law would disappear.”

    Well, that didn´t work in this country (Finland) where helmet usage was over 90% before (motorcycle) helmet law. I fact the argument most often heard from “road safety groups” and nanny politicians (the pro-helmet law people) for not installing a bicycle helmet law “yet” is that helmet usage is very low and would make enforcement impossible. So the aim for them is to get the number of helmet-clad cyclist up and then make “freedom of choise” illegal for the rest. I don’t think that politics and law enforcement work so differently in America.

  89. Ninou says:

    This guy is a strong contender for the Darwin award. One less idiot in the gene pool.

    Great article.

  90. Joey Wilson says:

    In a perfect world, riding bare-headed in shorts and Mikes on a beautiful warm day would be wonderful.

    However, in the world I do live in, my bare head will squish like a watermelon. The wind whipping over me is full of little pebbles and sand, any number of pesky or stinging insects, as well as the still-lit cigarette butt. That asphalt sandpaper will eat my bare hands or legs so fast you wouldn’t believe it at most any speed. There’s all kinds of vehicles around me full of texters. Lots of light poles, trees, curbs (that Gary Busey favorite !), dogs, thron bushes, you name it.

    So I’m an ATGATT guy. I’m not Ben Spies, I can’t ‘ride out’ of trouble. But just like racers in their full suits, I wear my gear, as I want to boost my odds any way I can. I don’t ride buzzed, I practice a lot, and my head’s always on a swivel. Just like a racer, I’ll take every advantage I can. And at the top of that list is a good helmet.

    Freedom includes being able to do dumb things as part of the proposition. I could easily shoot myself, but I don’t want gun control. I can understand how these guys feel this way, but there truly is no demonstrable advantage of not wearing a helmet, except possibly a closed-casket funeral.

    Be Careful Out There !

  91. TRonymous says:

    Smoking kills several hundred thousand Americans each year; yet smoking remains legal.

    How many die from head injuries due to helmetless riding? Is the number 2,000? I would think it’s in that neighborhood as plenty of people die with their helmets on.

    But what about the “public cost” so often used to argue for mandatory helmet use, that we end up paying for their mistakes? I have no clue what that number is, but I am going to say with confidence that putting one helmetless corpse in a pine box is way, way cheaper than what may turn out to be years of chemotherapy, surgery and countless hospital says before a lung cancer victim dies.

    Yet, smoking is still legal. We don’t even need to get into the lives destroyed by booze, another legal and readily available drug.

    I ride because I enjoy it. Riding without a helmet, which I only rarely get to do, is a joyous thing. You should try it some time.

    PS I don’t own a Harley and have no desire to own one. The helmet law opposition has little to do with the “orthodoxy of the Harley-Davidson-oriented cruiser culture.” It certainly does have a lot to do with freedom of choice.

  92. jason says:

    Not saying a helmet would not help save my life….sure it will. But if I’m with gonna get killed I could slip in the shower or any other million and one ways to die. I will be lidless whenever I ride simply because it’s my decision to do so. Nuff said.

  93. E-Ticket says:

    A big + 2.

    You utterly nailed it, my friend. E-Ticket

  94. paso100 says:

    To paraphrase your question, “Why do we even need … motorcycles?” And if, for instance, 81 percent of people believe motorcycles are inherently dangerous, shouldn’t that logically lead to an elimination of two-wheeled transport? I mean, the majority is right, right?
    To answer your question, we don’t need helmet laws, IMHO. Let’s face it, when you take the emotional impact of losing someone (the most important factor) due to an accident out of the equation, what everybody is REALLY concerned with is money, as in, “But I don’t want to pay for some idiot’s indiscretion.” Fine. I’d be more than happy to sign a waiver that keeps Joe Taxpayer from paying for my life support because I wasn’t wearing a helmet, IF the cager who hit me faces mandatory sentencing, that is.
    Remember, you can’t lose your rights if you freely give them away.

    • Hermit says:

      Brilliant, Sir.
      I currently wear mine almost all the time, (full face) after years of going bare-headed. But, if we ban all activities which may be dangerous, we’ll all be left curled up in the fetal position in our padded bedrooms, cowering in fear.

    • Gabe says:

      Your argument is the logical fallacy known as “The Slippery Slope.” The general public wants us to wear helmets and not bother them with our childish, self-indulgent unmuffled pipes. They don’t want to ban motorcycles.

      We freely give away plenty of rights so we can live in a dense, complex modern society. If you want to keep all your rights go live in a cave on a mountaintop in Tibet. Or you can just wear your helmet. Pick your battles.

      • paso100 says:

        It’s been my experience that logic has nothing to do with legislation, especially when it comes to laws that “protect us.” Just look at the Patriot Act and its attendant anti-terrorism laws if you want to examine how the “general public” thinks and feels about giving away once cherished rights.

        When you freely, or rather ignorantly, give up rights that affect personal choice, your playing into the hands of people who want to make choices for you, and negating your own free will and responsibility.

        And I don’t equate living in a “dense, complex modern society” with a requirement to give up personal choice, as some politicians and corporations (and individuals with the best intentions) would have us believe. What is “free” about that?

        I also advocate riding with protective gear, as a personal choice that requires common sense, responsibility, consideration and free will. A law that mandates helmet use would negate that.

      • Hermit says:

        “They don’t want to ban motorcycles.”
        Not yet……

  95. kpaul says:

    Amen Gabe Amen! Well said!