by Victor Wanchena
Regular readers of MMM know we aren’t afraid to take a position on safety issues. There are a lot of different issues, but the one that seems to rile people into a frenzy faster than a swarm of killer bees zooming through their kitchen is helmet use. For the record I am a helmet wearer. So you can qualify the rest of what I say with that knowledge in mind.
First, it should be said that I am not in favor of mandatory helmet laws. Maybe it’s some repressed conservative leanings escaping but, we don’t need yet another law on the books and all the government programs and spending that it would bring with it. Regardless of that, the devil was making a snowman the last time I hopped on a bike without my helmet.
This brings me to the question I have been pondering this month. Why do the major motorcyclist rights groups (AMA, ABATE, NCOM, and my favorite BOLT, Bikers of Lesser Tolerance) seem to rally around the anti-helmet camp? I know they proclaim a message of the freedom for a rider’s right to choose, yet they would never admit that wearing a helmet can prevent injuries in a crash. To me this seems like a fairly simple idea. When you crash, your helmet absorbs any impacts to your head. Duh. You don’t see racers of any sort; car, motorcycle, boat or mountain bikers hit the track without some sort of helmet. And they don’t seem to mind. Could it be they know something we don’t?
In a recent press release from ABATE Joe Dickey, the president of ABATE’s Pennsylvania chapter stated, “The simple truth is that real world experience in state after state has proven that the only way to reduce the number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities is to prevent motorcycle accidents.” All I can say is that he really went out on a limb with that statement.
So why do they pull out all manners of statistics that supposedly show that wearing helmets has no bearing on how severely you get hurt if you crash? I don’t suspect any grand conspiracy involving black helicopters or Freemasons, I just think they’ve been rallying so hard against the idea of riders being forced to wear helmets that they’ve lost sight of the real issue – making riding as safe as possible. Unfortunately too many people view wearing a helmet as allowing the government to tell you what to do.
My personal opinion is that when I ride I try to ride smart and that includes preparing for the unforeseen, like an armadillo darting in front of me, sending me into a cactus filled ditch. When that happens, I want a helmet on my head.
Ride fast, take chances, but try it with a helmet on.