Helmet Safety Info

Facts that helmet law repeal advocates subscribe to
Click here for Facts that helmet law proponents subscribe to
Click here for an Easyrider editorial regarding mandatory helmet laws

I have tried hard to present information relating to helmet laws, helmet usage, motorcycle crashes and injuries sustained in the most unbiased manner possible. I invite anyone who has factual, reliably obtained information to provide me with a link to that URL. Editor notes are made solely to identify cases where "facts" are presented without providing information on how those "facts" were arrived at.

I think that most of us are agreed that working for safer roads is a laudable goal. However, most Motorcyclists might disagree that mandating helmet use in any way helps to move society closer to that objective.

Information provided by the Helmet Law Defense League

The data used for this comparison was obtained from the 1994 Motorcycle Statistical Annual, Motorcycle Industry Council, Inc., 1994. The state motorcycle accident statistics were divided between states with a mandatory helmet law and those without. The only variable used in this comparison is a mandatory helmet law. The results show that accident and fatality rates are higher overall in states with mandatory helmet laws. The total number of accidents and fatalities are also higher in these same states. Mandatory helmet law states account for sixty-one percent (61%) of total motorcycle registrations. They account for sixty-four percent (64%) of the accidents and sixty-five percent (65%) of the fatalities.

ED Note: These statements are based on statistics that were collected in only one year by a presumably pro-motorcyclist organization. The stuff that they display is quite good, as far as it goes. I would like to see the same type of date displayed year by year for the past ten years of so to get a more accurate assessment.

NHTSA'S SAFETY STANDARDS ARE SHOWN BE BE ANYTHING BUT SAFE. The Truth About "Safety" Helmets Reveals a Myriad Of Hazards -- Most Of Them Fatal

It was on a flawless spring morning, May 5, 1985, that Larry McAfee, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer, decided, on an impulse, to take his motorcycle for a ride with friends on the mountain roads north of his suburban Atlanta home. Hours later, traveling no more than 10 m.p.h., he hit a curve, fell, and as his head snapped back, the base of his helmet crushed his top two vertebrae. "There was not another mark on him," says Larry's mother, Amelia. Yet in that split second, the 6'6", 240-lb. McAfee, an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fledgling parachutist, had sustained what the medical profession calls a "complete injury," one that would leave him permanently paralyzed from the neck down -- unable to walk, eat or even breathe again unaided.

ED Note: Each side of the helmet safety issue has "horror stories" that they can quote as "proof" that helmets do or do not prevent/cause injuries. It seems to me that the jury is still out on this one. Certainly, NHTSA and others have not met the burden of proof that helmet use prevents more injuries than they cause. Thus, the so-called "burden on Society" caused by not wearing motorcycle helmets seems to be balanced by the costs associated with caring for someone who was paralyzed because he/she did wear a helmet.

Testimony of Twyla Gab to South Dakota House Transportation Committee February 1993 Regarding Mandatory Helmet Bill

http://usff.com/1096hmom.html Proponents have also used motorcycle related deaths as a reason to pass this bill. They make it sound like every death could have been prevented with a helmet. If you have not personally considered each accident on its own merits, you may be listening to information which is misleading.

The Nebraska helmet law was enacted January 1, 1989. Motorcycle registrations were 29,088 in 1988 and 20,264 in 1991. Fatalities were 19 in 1988 and 15 in 1991. Motorcycle riders declined 30% while fatalities declined only 21% (Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, Nebraska Motorcycle Crash Statistics). The South Dakota 1991 motorcycle registrations were 24,133 with only 10 fatalities, 3 of whom were wearing helmets (Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Summary). With an additional 150,000 motorcyclists at the Sturgis Rally that year, the facts speak for themselves. A mandatory helmet law will not prevent even one accident, and in fact will cause more accidents which in turn will lead to more fatalities.

An interesting and informative article written by Col. Harry S. Bachstein

http://members.aol.com/bach11/speaks13.htm How do you perceive "bikers" and motorcycles? If you belong to the great majority of individuals who have never owned and ridden a motorcycle, my bet is that you have many preconceived notions of motorcycles and the people who ride them. No doubt you think of motorcycles as being inherently unsafe, and you pre-judge all "bikers" as being a bunch of low-life, whisky-swilling, grease-stained tough-guy marauders in black leather..........Consider the fact that even a used American-made motorcycle in poor condition is likely to cost over $5,000; in good condition, upwards of $10,000; a new dresser around $17,000 and customized, chromed bikes start at $20,000 and rise rapidly. The price tag alone rules out "low life." When you order me to put a helmet on my head, you are ordering me to restrict my senses and substantially reduce my peripheral vision and hearing. You are trying to create the same environment for me that the cager has, and the statistics show that the cager and his passengers are the most likely to die in a one-car accident. Why do you want to do that to me? You increase my chances of being struck from the rear and shoved into another cage up front, or perhaps being knocked into an intersection presently in use by other traffic.

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me . . . Health Care?
by Joseph C. Benning, Esquire

http://usff.com/healthcare.html Vermont, once described as "a resolute champion of individual freedom, a true interpreter of individual rights" recently passed a mandatory seat-belt law. The primary purpose of a seat-belt law is to require me to protect myself in the event of a crash. Its primary purpose is not to prevent me from crashing into you. This distinction is important. Laws designed to prevent me from harming you have been accepted (and expected) as part of the police power doctrine found in all state constitutions and the United States Constitution. But mandatory "protect yourself" laws are repugnant to the constitutional limits on government intrusion into individual privacy.

Vermont lawmakers, who traditionally voted down this kind of legislation as an intrusion on individual liberties, changed their minds with phrases like "it will save health care costs" and "why should I have to pay for someone else's stupidity with higher insurance premiums because they refuse to wear a seat-belt?" This change in attitude by Vermont, the champion state of individual freedom, is an ominous warning of things to come.

Facts OPPOSING Mandatory Helmet Laws (compiled by ABATE of Delaware, Inc.)

http://brookings.cfa.org/~tgab/helmets.htm Of the top 12 states with the best motorcycle safety records (fatalities per 10,000 registrations), only one has a helmet law. On the other hand, fully half of the worst safety records are helmet law states. (MSF and Motorcycle Industry Council data from 1986)

We invite and encourage Legislators and other interested folks to stop by to get the "real scoop" regarding helmet laws and motorcycle safety. If you or your organization have information you would like to add to this page, please send me an excerpt and the link to the source document and I will be happy to add it.

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Homepage of Easyrider LAN Pro Last modified on Friday, April 4, 1997