The merits of wearing a helmet while aboard a motorcycle are well-established. The disdain of wearing a helmet because it detracts from the riding experience is equally well-established. I’m not going to settle that argument; that’s not my place and I’m inevitably going step on someone’s toes in that process. In fact – whose call is that? Who is most qualified to make the decision on whether or not you are going to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle?
Well, look out – as is becoming more and more the case these days – your governmental “betters” believe it’s their call. The quest to impose helmet laws on motorcycling ADULT citizens goes on and is picking up steam. The latest salvo comes in the form of a “recommendation” that all states have mandatory helmet laws for all motorcyclists from a federal task force. This is an unelected panel of experts appointed by the head of the Centers for Disease Control…an unelected official appointed by the head of the Department of Health and Human Services…an unelected official (albeit subject to senate approval) appointed by the President of the United States. And what is this committee basing their finding on this time around? What else…healthcare costs. Get used to it – the feds are increasingly looking to exercise more and more control over your personal choices and behavior under the guise of controlling healthcare costs with the so-called Affordable Care Act going into force this year.
Opposition in the motorcycling community to mandatory helmet laws is nearly unanimous. Organizations ranging from ABATE and the AMA to about every riding and owners club under the sun agree that there’s no logical case to be made for forcing adult American motorcyclists to wear a helmet against their will. Is that language a little strong? Extrapolate any federal mandate out to its logical end…it’s a massive bureaucracy forcing citizens to conform to a prescribed behavior it deems the “right and proper” behavior. I don’t think that’s overstated in the least.
If the government is that worried about my personal well-being on a motorcycle then how about advocating for motorcycle only lanes in highways? Maybe motorcycle-only highways? Perhaps they can mandate airbags be installed on the outside of all moving vehicles to protect motorcyclists? On second thought, maybe they out to reconsider even allowing motorcycles on the roads during certain hours. Eh, solo crashes still occur, so maybe the motorcycle should be banned altogether. Don’t laugh, there are people out their advocating just such a path in other areas of American life right now. Don’t believe me? Tune into the nightly news and you’ll get nothing but a steady diet of hang-wringing and regulatory proposals from self-appointed superiors and “experts.” Think about it. How many times have you heard them say this food or that food will kill you…only to have it recommended as part of a healthy diet six months later?
Additionally, I’m not afraid to take on the question on its merits. There are none from a public health standpoint. According to the American Motorcycling Association’s paper entitled AMA Position in Support of Voluntary Helmet Use in 2000 1.55 percent of total U.S. health care costs are attributable to all motor vehicle crashes. Therefore motorcycle crashes account for a miniscule percentage of health care costs. [Emphasis mine]
Full disclosure – I rode without a helmet for years and years, but made the choice to start wearing one a couple of years ago. The same goes for my wife. She started wearing one full time about a year before I did. I’ll even recommend that you wear a helmet. But that’s MY call to make and your call to make. I can’t tell you what to do. Nor should a bunch of politicians.
So, as these debates rage on please be sure to stay vigilant. Whenever a politician starts to lecture the “masses” about our own good take their words and run them through the prism of liberty. Does this proposal or that regulation impose on my right to make personal decisions about my life as I see fit? To me that’s the essential question one should have forefront in their mind. But that’s just me.