I think this is an excellent idea (requiring at least $10,000 healt insurance for riders who chose to ride without helmets).
Then, by logical extention, we should do the same for others who chose "risky" lifestyles. We can start with smokers -- can't buy a pack of cigs without showing your insurance card along with your ID. Same for buying alcohol.
Fast food has recently been cited as a serious health risk for Americans, so McDonalds and Burger King et al will also have to check your insurance card before selling you that cheeseburger. No insurance, better settle for the vegeburger!
Unprotected sex for sure is one of the largest social costs -- between the cost of treating STDs and unplanned pregnancies, and the costs for supporting the resulting offspring. Unproducted sex should be strictly prohibited unless the practicioners can show proof of insurance, as well as the ability to financially support any resulting offspring.
I am sure that uninsured hospital charges resulting from smoking and poor eating habits, and unprotected sex are much more significant than from helmetless cylists, so I suggest we start there, and roll it out to other risky behaviours or lifestyles in order of $s. If we go after these practices in order of their cost to society, we should get around to helmetless riders sometime late in the century.
STATE SENATE TO ADDRESS COST OF GANG-RELATED SHOOTINGS
State Senator Ima Cretin (D-Ann Arbor) today introduced a bill intended to minimize the financial burden on Detroit-area medical facilities and welfare agencies that results from passers-by and bystanders being killed or wounded in gang-related shootings. Senator Cretin was unable to cite hard numbers, but stated that the cost "was certainly in the millions of dollars per year."
Senator Cretins proposal stipulates that any person venturing out of doors in areas designated by local police as "gang turf" must at all times be outfitted with an approved Kevlar vest, similar to those worn by law enforcement personnel. "I recognize that they may not be fashionable, and may be somewhat hot and uncomfortable, especially in summer," stated Senator Cretin, "but society simply cannot bear the full cost of the resulting injuries and deaths. Perhaps the inconvenience of having to wear such protective clothing may discourage some from engaging in such risky behavior. If even one innocent life can be spared by this law, the inconvenience will have been worthwhile."
Senator B.G. Dipschitz (R- Gros Point) has promised to introduce an amendment to this bill. "I understand the concerns of my respected colleague, Ms Cretin, but as a near-libertarian, I simply cannot endorse the State of Michigan mandating the wearing of such protective gear," he stated in a press conference this afternoon. He further elaborated that his version of the bill would eliminate the mandatory wearing of such protective vests by those over age 21, provided that they can show proof of having at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. Further, his amendment would provide that in the case where a vest-less gunshot victim is declared dead, or is determined by medical personnel to have non-survivable injuries, said victim will be deemed to have consented for his/her body or organs to be available for transplant or medical research.
The bill, along with any amendments, is expected come before the full Senate sometime later this month.
I think that is LongRide's point. Certainly, riding a motorcycle is riskier than driving in a car. Riding without a helmet is riskier than riding with one. Riding on the street while dragging your knee pucks is riskier than cruising down the interstate at or near the speed limit. Wheelies and stoppies are riskier than keeping your wheels on the ground. Trying to outrun the cops is riskier than pulling over and taking your lumps.
At some time or other, I have chosen to take each of these riskier choices (although the last time I so much as rode around the block without a helmet was about 20 years ago).
I chose to drag my knees and go as fast as I can on my Ducati (usually on a racetrack), while LongRide sometimes choses to cruise on his Harley sans helmet. Both of us know that there are risk involved in our choices. Who am I to say that his risk is stupid, while mine is not?
I wear a helmet when I ski. I am a very good skier, but also am aggressive and like to push my own limits. That means that I know I will crash, and crash hard, a certain percentage of the time. My teenaged daughter who skis nearly as aggressively, but who seldom crashes, refuses to wear a helmet because she says it interfers with her enjoyment of the experience. I don't find that to be the case, but I also do not force he to wear one. I expect her to learn to make her own assessment of what risks in life she is willing to take, and she does not learn that by having someone else make the decisions for her.
I don't personally find a downside to wearing a helmet (and full leathers or Aerostich) when I ride. I chose to avoid that risk, but willingly take on others. LongRide makes a different choice of what risks HE is willing to take.
I don't live in Arkansas so I don't know the local politics, but as one of the posts above, Texas has had a similar provision for years -- I guess that rep Bledsoe got the idea for the counterproposal from them.
I also don't know that this is a conservative proposal. I personally tend towards the center-liberal portion of the political spectrum so would like to blame this sort of think on conservatives, but this kind of thing seems to occur throughout the range of far-conservative through far liberal.
Most auto racing organizations do not require any type of helmet restraint, and such restraints are rarely used (more so since the death of Dale Earnhardt though). Formula I, CART, IRT etc do require them and I think NASCAR may now, but until recently, this was rare.
Go to an SCCA club race or any similar race and you may see a few HANS devices or other restraints, but the majority will not use anything of the sort.
There certainly is a risk of neck injury from a helmet, but I doubt that it would be more so than for cycle racers who get tumbled about a lot more than car racers usually do.
There are good arguements for having different standard for cars than for cycles, though. Cars DO have other safety features (thankfully) not present on bikes -- seat-belts, air bags, a steel cage around the occupants etc. Requiring helmet use for cycles is somewhat analagous to requiring seatbelt use in cars. The arguments for and against both are similar.