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Helmet Laws Suck

30133 Views 113 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  Kenneth_Moore
Suggesting that riding without a helmet is a good idea is, in most circles, about as popular as proposing a “Crack for Kids” program at the local School Board meeting. People get pretty agitated, and tend to think you’re out to undermine the very foundation of society. Regardless of that, I think riding without a helmet can be worth the risk, and I want to say so. If your mind is made up, you might as well skip the rest of this rant and move on. If you want to talk about it, I’d enjoy hearing your opinions.

I literally grew up wearing helmets. They were mandatory in Florida long before I could ride a motorcycle, legally or otherwise. The first bike I rode was a Honda 150 back in 1968; I used to borrow it from a friend and ride it around the neighborhood at the age of 12. I always borrowed the guy’s helmet too. About 4 years later I got my first tickets on two wheels when I borrowed a guy’s moped and rode it down a dirt road at a park. The cop decided to teach me a lesson and wrote me for no helmet, no license plate, no turn signals, and no registration. That incident clearly set the stage for my future relationship with the Florida DMV, but that’s another rant.

Not long after that incident, I got my first real bike, a Yamaha RD-350 in black and orange. The guy I bought it from gave me the standard helmet of the day, open front with the three snaps across the top to secure a face shield. I think it was purple with metal flake. I bought this goofy bubble-shaped hard plastic shield in yellow, which for some reason I thought was really cool. Not long after that, I got to borrow my friends Bell full-face helmet (back in those days Bell was synonymous with full-faced helmets, at least with the guys I hung out with) and from that point on, that’s what I wore. Eventually I settled on Shoei, and always got white ones to try to keep the heat down. And, in fact, when I do wear a helmet these days, that’s what I still wear.

As the years went by, I was peripherally aware of ABATE, the nationwide anti-helmet law organization. Originally their initials stood for “A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments,” but once the 70’s were over they toned it down to “American Bikers Aimed Toward Education.” Or something like that depending on what state you're in. They had fund raising events, lobbied the Legislature and Governor, and had an annual ride to Tallahassee to try to get the helmet law repealed, or at least modified. Back in the summer of 2000, they finally succeeded. The law wasn’t repealed, but it was changed to allow riders over 21 to ride without a helmet as long as they had a special $10,000 medical insurance policy to cover the cost of stuffing their brains back in their heads after an accident. Two interesting notes here: nobody could find any insurance company that offered this policy, and nobody could clearly explain what the heck this caveat really meant, so de-facto, the clause was meaningless. The other interesting side note is ABATE. Not long after the law was passed, I met a member handing out flyers for another fund raiser at one of the local motorcycle parts stores. When I asked what the heck they were collecting money for since they’d won, she looked confused and said: “well, they may change their minds!” Frankly, I think she was simply proving the “Iron Law of Oligarchy,” which essentially states that no matter what an organization is formed for initially; eventually its purpose becomes its own continuation, growth, and the aggrandizement of its leadership.

When the new law was announced, I said to myself and others that I’d never ride without a helmet. I reasoned that it would be pointlessly risky, and I didn’t want to end up a vegetable, disfigured, or dead. But it didn’t take too long before “it” happened. I tasted the forbidden fruit. I’ve forgotten exactly when, where, or why I wound up riding without a helmet, but I did. I loved it. I didn't want to wear a helmet any more.

I decided to try a small helmet instead of a full-face one to see if I could get the same feeling I had with no helmet. It was better, but still not the same. The only downside I found was the rain. I cannot ride without a helmet and face shield in the rain, it just hurts too much. I’ve always worn earplugs when I ride, so the wind noise without a helmet is manageable.

I don’t always ride without a helmet. In addition to rainy conditions, I usually wear a helmet during commuting hours, long trips at high speeds, and when it’s cold out. But last night I took a ride under the stars without, and I will say this: for me, that ride without the helmet was far more enjoyable than it would have been with. I can’t explain it, any more than I can explain to a cager why I take the risks of riding a motorcycle at all, versus just getting in the car. And, as I rode along last night, I decided to write this and share my thoughts.

So, here it is: I suggest that if you ever get the chance, take off your helmet and give it a try. If you’ve never done it, you might be surprised. And if you splatter your brains all over the highway, don’t blame me. It is, after all, just a suggestion. To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, “a zest for living requires a willingness to die.”

PS: I suspect my fun will end soon. I can’t imagine this society of ours allowing this type of individual choice for too much longer. Frankly, I was stunned when the law was repealed. I'm sure the Feds will link mandatory helmet laws to highway funding or something.
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I think people should have the freedom to decide whether they use helmet or not. I believe in natural selection. In darwinic sense.

- cruiz-euro
If you really believed that was true, I think you would have died long ago.
You're smarter than that, aren't you? My basic beef is- we choose to participate in an activity that IS more dangerous than most. You, me, everyone on this forum have personal responsibility. It's is not my job to keep you healthy. It's not your job to pay my child's medical bills when she breaks a leg on the mx course. I'm not say "Don't treat the injuries". I'm saying don't make anyone but the injured (if at fault) pay their own [email protected] way. You bust that bean don't expect a Joe Taxpayer bailout.
Paying premiums for Insurance gives you the access you need to medical services. That, in no way, is related to my arguement. Health providers should not be allowed to pick and choose the injuries they cover. It all should be covered- no matter the nature or cause of the injury. SEE- the arguements are NOT connected.
How about other forms of social responsibility. So you aren't for Aid to Dependent children, welfare, unemployment paychecks, food stamp, etc.? You are an 'everybody pay their own way' guy? I'm all for it. Those programs cost us a hell of a lot more than injured motorcyclists. I never collected a dime on ANY social program, but I sure as hell paid a hell of a lot of money into them. When is it my time to collect?
Well, hopefully it's never your time to collect. While I don't like giving away my money to a system that I can't affect, I do believe that social programs are necessary to maintain a civilized nation. If you think there are crime problems now, see what happens when there's no security net for people who loose their jobs, homes, family, etc. Is the system abused? Of course. Is the system run effectively and efficiently? Highly unlikely. Can it be better? Absolutely. But it is necessary. And hopefully you'll never need to get your turn to use it.
Well, people are always worried sick about those helmetless riders costing them money, while they ignore all the drug addicts, teen pregos, welfare queens, etc. I'm sick of THOSE people. All the Gubment does is figure out ways to give them more money. I just heard the Gubment wants to set up a fund to bail all the people that are getting forclosed because they (of course) bought houses they couldn't afford. I think I need ot quit working and get on the gravy train.
A willingness to assist others less fortunate than ourselves is a foundation of civilization, and a key differentiator between mankind and the animal kingdom. Oops, sorry. That was political.
I need a few bucks for this month's mortgage for the house I couldn't afford, and a few more for the kids I had out of wedlock. Oh yeah, maybe throw in a few more for some drug treatments I need. One other thing. I will need the same from you every month. I'm sure you will be happy to assist. Sometimes even the animals are correct. ;-)
I already do, every time I pay taxes. And I don't have a problem with that, because I'd prefer not to live in a nation filled with poverty, disease, and dispair.
You are right. You'd rather live in a nation filled with the lazy, inept, and wasteful. One will surely lead to the other. More takers every day and no amount of money thrown at the problem will fix that.
Spend a few years in a Third World country and get back to me. You can find what you're looking for in much of the Middle East, almost all of Africa, and a good percentage of South and Central America. If living in a civilized society means a small (and it IS small) percentage of my taxes go to the undeserving, it's a fair trade as far as I'm concerned.
So as long as a small percentage of your taxes go to the undeserving, you can sleep well at night. How about I opt out and you pay my share too. You seem like a really nice guy, and I think you are up to the task. Since I worked in a Gov organization for 17 years, I know exactly how much of your tax money is wasted. I guess since you don't know, it doesn't bother you. I suppose until the tax bill gets high enough, or the undeserving come in ever greater numbers (and they are) only then will it bother you. Of course, by then, it will be waaaaay to late to stop the train. Lets keep the handouts rolling along until we all go broke. Third World is alot closer then you think.
I worked for two government organizations, NASA at KSC/Cape Canaveral. (contractor) and the local School Board. Yes, there's a lot of waste, especially in the DOD sector. Does that mean government is useless? I think not.

If you want to opt out, go ahead. I think you'll find the "Life of Riley" you seem to think living on the government dole is, really isn't that much fun after all. Even the UK, which is an extreme example of "government coddling" is a far better choice for me than Africa, where if you don't have a job or family support, your kids go hungry or die from disease.
I have a feeling if you play it right, it works just fine. I know at least 3 people I grew up with that never had a job in their life, but somehow always had plenty of food, housing, and money to smoke cigs and get drunk every night. I'm seriously thinking of trying it. When I look at my TOTAL tax bill, I'd say I'm not keeping all that much that I'm working for anyway. Africa would do just fine if tightwads like you would pay more money so we could subsidize their living standards. All they need is more money, right? :wink:
And therein lies the difference. I think the vast majority of people are better off today than at any time in America's history. You said it yourself: you got motivated and you were able to build a terrific life for yourself! Did you know people were starving to death in the 30's when Roosevelt started the New Deal?
That is the whole point of Capitalism. There are winners and losers. Today, we all have to pay for the losers. It won't work forever. The losers are going to outnumber the payers by the thousands. So when the well runs dry, what then?
To recap quickly here, helmet laws suck and government handouts suck worse. All the helmet laws in the world won't lower your insurance rates, you medical payments, nor will they lower your tax bill. Look elsewhere for that relief. Ride free! Over and Out!
How about if we prove how effective driving a cage can be. How about hitting a brick wall at 40mph with your motorcycle, and then do the same with your 5 star crash rated auto. Which one do you think you would prefer? Oh yeah, you can wear your helmet during the test on the bike too! So we sould have car laws now?
Just think what could be accomplished if we could get Al Gore to follow your example!
Nothing like trying to make a dime on someone else's dime.
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