FairWarining Investigates

Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators

Anti-helmet law demonstrators in recent rally at state capitol in Albany, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein / Albany Times Union)

WASHINGTON – In a highly touted safety achievement, deaths on the nation’s roads and highways have fallen sharply in recent years, to the lowest total in more than a half-century. But motorcyclists have missed out on that dramatic improvement, and the news for them has been increasingly grim.

So it might be no surprise that biker groups are upset with Washington. The twist is what they are asking lawmakers and regulators to do: Back away from promoting or enforcing requirements for safe helmets, the most effective way known to save bikers’ lives.

Fatalities from motorcycle crashes have more than doubled since the mid-1990s. The latest figures show these accidents taking about 4,500 lives a year, or one in seven U.S. traffic deaths.

Yet if the biker groups’ lobbyists and congressional allies have their way, the nation’s chief traffic cop — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA — will be thwarted in its efforts to reduce the body count. The agency would be blocked from providing any more grants to states to conduct highway stops of motorcyclists to check for safety violations such as wearing helmets that don’t meet federal standards.

Beyond that, the rider groups are seeking to preserve what essentially is a gag rule that since 1998 has prevented NHTSA from advocating safety measures at the state and local levels, including promoting life-saving helmet laws. And the bikers’ lobbyists, backed by grassroots activists and an organization whose members include a “Who’s Who” of motorcycle manufacturers, already have derailed a measure lawmakers envisioned to reinstate financial penalties for states lacking helmet laws.

Those moves partly are intended to maintain the bikers’ clout in state legislatures, which have kept rolling back motorcycle helmet regulations for three decades. With Michigan’s repeal in April of its nearly 50-year-old helmet requirement covering all riders, only 19 states have such helmet laws, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In the late 1970s, by contrast, 47 states had requirements covering all riders.

“This is…an interesting and dangerous road they are going down,” said Jackie Gillan, president of the Washington-based nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “They are so emboldened now, not only do they try to repeal laws and stop them from being enacted, they try to stop the hands of law enforcement, saying you cannot use grant money to have motorcycle checkpoints. Can you imagine if they said the same thing about sobriety checkpoints?”

Biker groups, contending that helmet laws curtail personal freedom, say the federal government instead should emphasize rider training to prevent crashes from happening in the first place. They urge NHTSA, which has spent upwards of $30 million on training through an industry-endorsed grant program that Congress established in 2005, to step up that effort.

But it is far from clear that training does anything to reduce crashes or deaths. A 2007 Indiana study, for instance, found that riders who completed a basic training course were 44 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than untrained riders. Researchers speculated that the courses gave riders unwarranted confidence, and that they ended up taking more risks.

Emily Chow for FairWarning

Mandatory helmet laws are widely considered the closest thing to a silver bullet that regulators have to thwart deadly accidents. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,483 lives in 2009, and that another 732 deaths could have been avoided if all riders had worn them. The social costs of the carnage are also huge: a 2008 agency estimate concluded that $1.3 billion in medical bills and lost productivity would have been saved if all bikers had worn helmets.

The paradox between what biker groups are lobbying for versus what most safety experts say really works riles regulators and other public health advocates.

“You cannot be in this battle and not be frustrated by this senselessness,” said Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan.

He added that the personal freedom that riders seek would have socially unacceptable consequences if carried to its logical extreme. “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet,” Dabbs said. “Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent investigative and advisory agency, includes motorcycle helmets among its “most wanted” transportation safety improvements and has urged states to make them mandatory. Likewise, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland has said of helmets: “No other single countermeasure offers a comparable body of supporting scientific evidence confirming its potential for saving lives of motorcyclists.”

Libertarian Message

That motorcyclists have evaded the kind of regulation that has made seat belts and car seats standard equipment in other motor vehicles shows the influence of a vocal minority of riders whose libertarian message seems to resonate more than ever with lawmakers inside and outside the Beltway. And their efforts receive support from the leading motorcycle manufacturers. Manufacturers generally endorse the use of helmets but, loath to offend their customers, they also are an important dues-paying membership bloc in the American Motorcyclist Association, an ardent opponent of helmet laws.

For example, Harley-Davidson Inc. said through a spokeswoman that it “supports and encourages safety for all motorcycle riders, but believes in the personal freedom of people making the choices that are right for them regarding helmet use.”

The rider lobby’s powerful friends include U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., whose state is home to Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson. He has led efforts in the House to block NHTSA from promoting state and local safety measures and using federal funds for motorcycle checkpoints.

“Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

    — Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, attacking the logic of helmet law critics

The repeal of Michigan’s long-standing helmet law had been opposed by a coalition of more than two dozen medical and public health groups led by the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. Public opinion, too, weighed against the move — a poll indicated that 80 percent wanted to keep the helmet law. State safety officials predicted the repeal would lead to at least 30 more deaths a year.

Motorcycle activists, led by the local chapter of a group calling itself American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, or ABATE, framed the issue as a matter of personal liberty. They also argued that the repeal would draw more riders to the state and increase tourism.

In Michigan, riders 20 and younger still must wear helmets, and the new law requires motorcyclists to have at least $20,000 in medical insurance. But those who advocated keeping the helmet requirement for all riders said the $20,000 in insurance would not come close to covering the cost of a catastrophic injury.

Compelling Evidence

Nationally, the evidence that helmets prevent head injuries and deaths has long been compelling. Two decades ago, a Government Accountability Office analysis identified 46 academic studies that showed helmets saving lives and reducing the social burden of caring for injured riders.

Even the American Motorcyclist Association readily acknowledges that helmets that meet Transportation Department standards can prevent serious injury or even death in the event of a crash, and encourages their use, although the group still says riders should have the option of not wearing one.

Recent studies also have rebutted a long-standing assertion by rider groups that helmets can increase the chances of cervical spine injuries because of the greater torque they place on the neck. Johns Hopkins University researchers, in a study published last year that reviewed 40,000 motorcycle collisions, found the opposite to be true: the helmeted riders were 22 percent less likely to suffer cervical spine injury than those without helmets.

“We are debunking a popular myth,” said Adil H. Haider, the leader of the study and an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Motorcycle groups have also become better organized and funded, roaring to life with Washington lobbyists and thousands of grassroots volunteers to fight helmet requirements on the federal and state levels.

The American Motorcyclist Association – whose corporate members include Harley-Davidson and North American divisions of Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki – has spent $3.8 million lobbying Congress on helmet laws and other issues over the last decade, while doling out more than $200,000 in campaign contributions to members, according to OpenSecrets.org, a database run by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation spent $2.1 million in lobbying during the same period.

Emily Chow for FairWarning

That is the force that Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., a long-time supporter of mandatory helmet laws, ran into last December. He was poised to introduce a proposal to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee that would have forced states to pass helmet laws or else lose millions in federal highway funds. It would have reinstated a similar requirement that, after a lobbying campaign by motorcyclist groups, was repealed in 1995.

In a preemptive strike, the rider groups alerted their members and encouraged them to connect with their lawmakers on the issue. They had defeated a similar helmet proposal two-to-one in 2005. Lautenberg ditched his pro-helmet idea without even offering it up for formal consideration. A Lautenberg spokesman said that the senator “remains committed to strengthening helmet laws and is pursuing several strategies to increase helmet use across the country.”

Death Toll Climbing

As more riders have gotten on the road and the number of states with mandatory helmet laws has declined, biker deaths have soared.

The death toll climbed from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,502 in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available. Motorcycle-related fatalities accounted for 14 percent of the 32,885 deaths overall from motor vehicle crashes in 2010, which officially is the lowest total since 1949.

The victims last year included 17- year-old Caroline Found of Iowa City, Iowa, who died after she lost control of her moped and struck a tree. They also included Philip Contos, 55, who was killed while participating in a rally to protest New York’s mandatory helmet law. Police say Contos, who resided near Syracuse, N.Y., would have survived had he been obeying the law.

The irony of Contos’s death attracted widespread media attention, although friends say he would have been repulsed by the idea that he had become a poster boy for helmet laws.

Four teenage friends of Found, motivated by her death, launched a campaign to persuade the Iowa legislature to enact a helmet law. (Along with Illinois and New Hampshire, Iowa allows riders of all ages to go helmet-less.) Their bid fell short. “It is getting to the point where we’re going to have to bubble wrap everyone just to protect them from everything,” a state legislator told the young activists, explaining his opposition to a ban. “I think there’s got to be some common sense here.”

Helmet advocates say it is the public that ends up getting ripped off when it has to pick up the tab for health costs associated with catastrophic accidents.

“If you don’t wear a helmet, and you sustain a moderate to severe injury that doesn’t kill you, you are going to be a drain on society for the rest of your life,” said Thomas J. Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

NHTSA once tried to take a lead role in providing information to states considering helmet laws. It set aside $330,000 in 1995 and 1996 for the cause, including a $149,000 contract for a video and white paper for state legislators.

The video – titled “Without Motorcycle Helmets, We All Pay the Price” – featured testimonials from helmet-wearing crash survivors and a trauma-room physician who compared helmets to “a vaccine” because of the compelling evidence they reduced brain injuries.

Controversy revved up when the Motorcycle Riders Foundation obtained an early copy of the pro-helmet video and began distributing it to friends in Congress. Rider groups portrayed the situation as an example of NHTSA using federal tax money to lobby against the interests of taxpaying bikers.

Helmet law protest. (Skip Dickstein / Albany Times Union)

They found a champion in Sensenbrenner, and in 1998 Congress enacted a sweeping measure that barred NHTSA from attempting to influence state and local legislators on any pending legislation. NHTSA representatives could appear as witnesses, but only in response to an official invitation.

With NHTSA more recently signaling stepped-up interest in promoting helmet use, Sensenbrenner has emerged as a lead opponent again, sponsoring a resolution, now in the hands of a House subcommittee, that would reaffirm the agency’s lobbying ban.

Novelty Helmets

NHTSA is facing opposition to motorcycle checkpoints, too. The agency in 2010 earmarked $350,000 to help state police set up stops to check motorcyclists for safety violations. One intent is to crack down on so-called novelty helmets, which do not meet federal standards but account for an estimated one in five of the helmets riders wear. The helmets have become popular because they are lightweight and come in various styles — and because they can keep police away in states that mandate helmet use.

But they are also dangerous. “They are just plastic toys, essentially,” says Tim McMahon, a San Jose, Calif., personal-injury lawyer, who won a $1.7 million injury award for a Fresno man who suffered brain damage from a 2005 crash while wearing a novelty helmet that he thought was safe.

Despite the risks, motorcyclists have gone to court to block regulation. In a test case, four bikers who were ticketed in 2008 at a checkpoint in New York for lacking approved helmets filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming that inspections singling out motorcyclists were illegal discrimination. A judge dismissed the suit last year.

The American Motorcyclist Association, taking another tack, fired off a letter in late 2010 urging NHTSA administrator Strickland to suspend the federal checkpoint grant program, saying there were unanswered questions about the program’s implementation, legality and efficacy. Strickland declined.

Biker groups were further incensed when the agency subsequently made a grant to the state of Georgia, which used the money in March, 2011 to monitor bikers headed south to the legendary Daytona Beach Bike Week.

Motorcycle activists again found a sympathetic ear in Sensenbrenner, who introduced legislation to end federal funding of motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints. The anti-checkpoint measure may be considered by a House-Senate conference committee currently working on a long-term surface transportation bill.

“These checkpoints are not an effective use of taxpayer money,” Sensenbrenner said, in a prepared statement in response to questions. “Motorcycle-only checkpoints force law enforcement officials to play ‘nanny state’ to all riders rather than focusing on those who are endangering themselves and others on the road, and do not address the factors that contribute to motorcycle crashes.”

Biker groups raise similar points.

“The federal government says all day long: ‘You guys are a huge problem. You are killing yourselves out there. You need to start wearing helmets.’ But then they do not want to put resources” toward training and accident prevention, said Jeff Hennie, a Washington-based lobbyist for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.

American Motorcyclist Association spokesman Pete terHorst added that helmet mandates create “unintended consequences,” drawing scarce resources away from alternatives like training.

But the advantages of training are questionable. A 2009 study for the federal Transportation Research Board found that the evidence was inconclusive about whether educating riders through formal programs made them any safer.

Other studies have shown that, while training helps riders pass basic skills tests, their chances of getting in a crash after six months of driving are about the same as untrained riders. That raised questions even for Tim Buche, president of the industry-sponsored Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which has developed the training materials most widely used in the U.S. “Maybe the training does not change someone’s true behavior for the long term,” he speculated.

Even if training pays off, public health advocates argue that relying on it exclusively would be equivalent to, in the automotive world, exempting people who take a driver’s education course from requirements to use seat belts or to put children in car seats.

Doctors such as Esposito who provide care for the people hurt in those crashes, though, sometimes are mystified about why riders don’t take it upon themselves to wear safe helmets for their own protection.

Asked whether he often thinks about how a patient with a head injury could have avoided his plight simply by wearing a helmet, Esposito replied: “All the time.”

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205 comments to “Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators”

  1. Muriel Strand, P.E.

    it would be fine with me if idiots insist on acting like easy rider, as long as their hospital emergency medical costs weren’t borne in any degree by other taxpayers.

    and it would be fine with me if all those viciously noisy engines that are touted by said idiots as safety measures were all summarily dispatched with shotguns.

  2. Ron Melancon

    The same could be said for people who tow defective utility trailers…..go to http://www.dangeroustrailers.org and ask….
    Why?

  3. Chuck

    What the hell is wrong with you morons that think head injuries only happen on motorcycles? You think bikers should wear helmets because head injuries cost money but don’t say a thing about the cost of head Injuries in cars. How profoundly stupid. Over 4000 pedestrians get killed by cars hitting them and you still don’t think they have head injuries. Did any of you imbeciles go to college? Even a monkey on drugs knows that if a biker should wear a helmet then any type of head injury should require a helmet! If you can’t get the others to wear them them shut the hell up and leave the bikers alone!!!!

  4. David Vazquez

    Scott Xadow…
    “Until good citizens are able to ban motorcycles”

    My goodness, so, in your book, motorcycles and motorcyclists are “evil”…? “lumps of human debris”…? Prejudiced much?

    I assume you feel that police and military should not have or drive motorcycles either, while doing their jobs…?

    What if we took the same attitude about people who drive the brand of auto that YOU drive..?

  5. Scott Xadow

    Until good citizens are able to ban motorcycles, EMS should ignore these lumps if human debris rather than taking critical time and resources away from (even slightly) more responsible people who require their services.

    These same bikers demand freedom and ‘rugged individualism.’ Let’s give it to them – and take it to the next level. If they can’t make it to the ER on their own accord, the road crews can bus their bodies the next day. Monies can be recuperated by putting the most sensational road kills on Pay-per-View.

    This is win-win for both parties: The bikers get their freedom to be, well, *bikers* and the rest of us are inconvenienced less because of them.

  6. Chuck Nordby

    I have ridden motorcycles for 48 years and 250,000 miles, almost all without a helmet. Now at 63 years old I do far more riding in my home town (population 1964) on small cycles. There has never been a death in my towns city limits from a motorcycle accident and yet I have to have a constant threat from you moron helmet advocates to my freedom to choose not to wear a helmet. Put a helmet on in your car, you are the one that has an air conditioner. I’m just riding on 30 mile per hour roads to stores and trying to be comfortable riding on hot days. Those stinking helmet laws don’t allow for areas that that are SAFE! Almost all small cities of 2000 people or less have rarely had a death in their city limmits from any vehicle! I have checked statistics for head injury death rates in cars (10 % of deaths are head related) and even though cars are safer per mile than cycles, the total deaths from head injuries are very close to the same as cycles. So just where do you car driving helmet law nuts get off telling me to wear a helmet when you are ALSO a burden to society???? Mind your own bussiness IDIOTS!!!

  7. jeddy tranquill

    Quess what folks? After the Michigan Helmet Repeal while registrations went UP 5% the death, injury and invovement toll WENT DOWN 5% just like I told Gov Rick Snyder that it would! All you helmet hysterics can now go back to your caves and close the rock in behind you so that you will be safe!

  8. Joe

    Just ban all motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.
    No murdercycles,…..no fatalities,…..simple solution..

  9. Edgar

    I wear a helmet because I choose to. Others do not and that is their choice. I pay insurance. The study referenced also neglects to account for the increase in mc riders and registrations over the same period so as a percentage fatalities are probably down. With sobriety checks, anyone can get stopped. Motorcycle- only checkpoints are riders only. So when the mayor’s spouse whizzes by in her Escalade talking on her cell phone while punching in her restaurant reservations on her 7″ LCD touch screen display, I’m sitting at a motorcyclist only checkpoint with a cop sent out by the mayor to collect Benjamins for the city’s coffers. You can make helmets mandatory on the same day you make cell phones and car dash infotainment systems inoperable once the car is in motion. Who pays for those accident victims? According to some logic here, if I witness someone who was texting /on a cell phone while driving and they’re in in accident I can leave them for dead because their behavior was high risk and society shouldn’t “pay their bills” Nice!

  10. Wombat

    Make it a requirement that those riders that wish to forgo using helmets first sign an organ donor registration card. They get their freedom, & when the inevitable tragedy occurs someone gets their life back.

  11. JT

    Those that would forfeit freedom for the sake of security deserve neither.

  12. Derek Reeves

    good friend’s son just died on a motorcycle.
    no cars were involved.

    there is an option that needs to be addressed:
    just as abstinence from sex is an option for prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
    so abstinence from riding motorcycles is an option for prevention of unwanted motorcycle accidents and deaths of loved ones.

    a lot of in-your-face stuff comes from Abate.
    “start seeing motorcycles” signs are everywhere
    we know that “not seeing” is not always the case.
    there are a lot of idiots that ride….not saying everyone.

    so stop ridin ’em is just as appropriate.
    motorcycles are for the most part, recreational.
    they are a seasonal toy just like a boat.
    some people live their hobby and others do not want anything to do with them.
    this gives those who dont, an alternative.

    please join me in supporting stop ridin ’em.

    stop ridin ’em is a campaign to encourage the absence of riding motorcycles in order to saves lives. Too many motorcyclist have died, been maimed, and destroyed others’ lives through motorcycle accidents. http://igg.me/p/209822 is the indiegogo website helping the stop ridin ’em campaign.

    thank you,
    derek reeves

  13. Sue Ernst

    “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”
    – Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, attacking the logic of helmet law critics

    Mr Dabbs, you make me nauseous
    Motorcyclists are insurance carrying taxpaying citizens, a large number of them have gone to war to fight for your freedom and rights that you want to just give away. Don’t give mine away while you are at it. It’s funny how people that don’t wear helmets don’t care if you do or not but the people that do wear them are hell bent on making you wear one. Reminds me of dry drunks and reformed smokers – always right.

  14. steve

    I started teaching MC safety education in 1971. I taught my students over the years to be extremely paranoid(actually not paranoid as they ARE after us!)

    Better education of beginning riders is essential as the FIRST year of riding IS the most dangerous as things become second nature only with experience.

    The inattentive car driver is always going to be a danger- it IS getting worse with cells and texting. The cops alraedy have put a box on the tickets demarking if a cell phone was in use( sure after you run over a MCist- you will tell the cop that you were jabbering on the phone??-I think not!)

    Experience and a constant state of hyper awareness is essential to staying alive- Any altered state of conciousness, including a fight with another, or elation over something, can be fatal if one lets their guard down.

    Wearing a helmet, according to a plastic surgeon ,who taught at the EMT class attended, “Would put me out of business!”

    He was referring to a full face helmet which I showed him, as I wore it in on my bike.

    If you opt out of wearing a helmet, I feel that nobody else, except for your family, should shoulder the burden of keeping you on life support at horrendous expense. Insurance shouldn’t cover an unprotected head!!

    If that is a harsh attitude- attribute it to seeing unprotected riders die or become veggies- for the simple reason that they thought they were “free” when not protecting themselves.

    Keep the shiny side up-

    cheers-steve

  15. Michael Moody

    First, let me say that I believe that every state in the union should require DOT helmet use at all times. I saw a man in TN dump his bike coming out of a parking lot because it stalled. His head hit the curb so hard that it bounced back up. Had he not been wearing a helmet (TN requires one) he surely would have died. But, because he was wearing one, he got up, we helped him pick his bike up, and off he went. Case closed. We have to legislate using helmets because we have so many dumb idiots who don’t have the common sense, so we have to think for them. Many of them, unfortunately, would thank us later.

    Second, if you want to lower the motorcycle crashes, start rigorous enforcement of traffic laws for cars. They run red lights, change lanes without even looking, pass motorcycles in the same lane (highly illegal and dangerous), cut bikes off and don’t get back in their lanes when they hear the horn of a bike (I have air horns), eat while driving, talk on cell phones, text (how rediculous), read newspapers and books while driving (I’d like to grab them out of their car and shake them), play with dogs, discipline children, apply makeup, and even have sex, all while driving!!!! We as bikers have to share the road with these fools. If law enforcement would start actively enforcing the laws for these people they wouldn’t be on the road. The problem is, that law enforcement is generally lazy, and doesn’t want to do anything except collect their pay and go home (I got this directly from a sheriffs deputy when I asked him why he didn’t go after a red light runner who we both witnessed.

    The roads are only going to get worse as long as traffic laws go largely unenforced. I wouldn’t ride to the end of my driveway without a helmet, and I don’t think that riding without one should even be a choice. Cmon riders, quit making excuses for your own stupidity and get smart. Wear a helmet and insist that others do also. And no, I am not a bleeding heart liberal, I’m a conservative who believes in common sense.

  16. Brett

    The #1 way to make motorcycling safer is to BAN CARS. The evidence that I see daily is that the majority of car drivers are eating, talking on their phones, texting, painting nails, applying makeup, reprimanding children in the back seat, letting the dog ride in the drivers lap, reading, or fumbling with whatever gadget or accessory is on or in their dash. Cars should not even have drink holders. The fact that the cars made nowadays with a touch screen in the dash is absolutely ridiculous. The car manufacturers are inviting more accidents with that one. The vehicle operator should be doing nothing but operating the vehicle. It should be much more difficult to obtain a drivers license than it is. That should bring the death toll down significantly.

    As for the non-car related motorcycle accidents, the rider should wear the proper gear to protect themselves fully. I wear a full face helmet and full riding gear because I want to survive an accident. For the rider that chooses not to, that is his choice and they and/or their loved ones will have to live with any consequences.

    The insurance companies support these laws so they can have less claims. They are also the ones who back compulsory auto insurance laws because it is automatic business for them.

    Helmet & seatbelt laws are wrong. Yes I also wear a seatbelt religiously. I am smart enough to not need a law to tell me it is the right thing to do to protect myself. As for the stupid people who do not protect themselves, well, the world needs less stupid people. We do not need laws that protect us from ourselves. I reserve the right to risk my own life.

  17. Paul

    As I read the comments/remarks, what amazes me is the level of ignorance & stupidity displayed by many riders.
    If you crash, you will be killed anyway, so you don’t need a helmet?
    Helmets are dangerous because they will break your neck?
    I wear a helmet & full gear whenever I ride & I do not resent the fact that there is a law requiring me to do so.
    Stupid is as stupid does, so keep riding without helmets or with novelty helmets…organ donors are always needed.

  18. Kristy Crook

    I choose not to wear a helmet. I also have my living will drawn up and should I be in a crash that bad, because of my living will, I will not survive, Nor would I want to. Who in their right mind would want to save their brain and have a useless body with which they can do nothing???? Not to mention I have full insurance coverage and won’t cost the taxpayers a dime. I also agree with hyped up skewed statistics. Yes we have more crashes, but the the number of licensed drivers has also doubled over the same period. Same percentage of crashes. End of story.

    I also agree that safety training for both bikers and cagers is an absolute necessity. The rider training courses are awesome, and at least in MN, I wish drivers ed was mandatory. All you have to do get a motor vehicle liscense here is be 18 and pass the test, with no actual training. If you’re taught by a crappy driver, you too will be a crappy driver. There have been a couple of accidents in SE MN lately with riders who took a corner too fast and crashed. One involved a highway and one on a county road. I’m guessing that had they been better educated about the laws of physics and two wheels, they probably wouldn’t have crashed.

  19. Rich Snooks

    I want to start by apologizing for the length of this email but it concerns a lengthy study and I want to share my thoughts about it because I believe that we will see this study quite a bit in the upcoming year.

    As predicted, Michigan’s victory has stirred up the opposition. Since the modification of the Michigan helmet statute we have seen articles, editorials and letters decrying the act and arguing that it will lead to more deaths and increased costs. Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study using 2008 data. Their conclusion was predictably that universal helmet laws save lives and money, and that allowing adults to make their own choices on the subject increases fatalities and public costs. You can read the study for yourself at http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/mc2012/MotorcycleSafetyBook.pdf
    The problem with this study is that it is a collection of conclusions. Many of these conclusions do not make sense when we look at the facts. Other conclusions are not based on sound logic. Finally, others rest upon logic which, if applied to other activities, would justify government regulation that few American citizens would accept because it would then affect them.

    The premise of the study is twofold. The first is that states which do not have universal helmet laws have much higher fatality rates. The second is that these states are burdened by higher costs due to un-helmeted motorcycle riders. I would like to analyze these premises.

    First we will take fatalities. I have a hard time believing that this was a non-biased study given the way it made the argument that the only proven way to reduce motorcycle fatalities was to strip adults of the right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. If you think I am exaggerating their stance I would point you to page 5 where the study states the following:
    “Helmets are the only safety measure proven to save lives.” (Emphasis added).
    Is it the contention of the CDC that rider education is not a safety measure proven to save lives? Can any reasonable person actually think that learning how to control your motorcycle and operate it defensively and responsibly is of no proven safety value? That is utter nonsense. Several years ago the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists studied the effectiveness of Virginia’s rider education program. We pulled five years’ worth of motorcycle crash statistics and with the help of the Division of Motor Vehicles broke the crashes down between graduates of Virginia’s rider education program and non-graduates. Graduates were tremendously under-represented in those statistics. Further, there were two out of the five years in which out of all fatalities for that year NONE were graduates of the rider education program. Other states have done the same thing with similar results. Rider education is most certainly a proven safety measure. I would argue that it is the most effective safety measure. Why does every state have an extensive driver’s education program if education is not a safety measure proven to save lives.
    The study goes on to point out the rise in motorcycle fatalities over the years and suggests that relaxed motorcycle helmet laws are to blame. It uses Florida as an example. This is not a new argument; however it does ignore some important facts. First it is important to note that upon modification of Florida’s helmet law to allow adults to choose, motorcycle registrations in Florida increased dramatically. According to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles’ report Traffic Safety Facts, October 2010: Motorcycles, between 2000 and 2009 motorcycle fatalities have increased by 63.4% and motorcycle injuries have increased by 62.3% However during that time motorcycle registrations increased by 102.4%. Injuries and fatalities have not kept pace with motorcycle registrations. Secondly, using states such as Florida is very misleading. It is one of the top motorcycle tourist destinations in the United States. It also has a much longer riding season. Additionally, it hosts one of the largest motorcycle events in the country drawing half a million motorcyclists a year from all over the country. (Wikipedia.com) Clearly that number of motorcyclists is going to throw the numbers off.
    The CDC study also fails to take into consideration national motorcycle registrations in presenting its statistics. Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation did some great work debunking similar claims of motorcycle fatality rates in a recent article. The numbers used by the article are taken from the National Highway Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA). In 1997 there were 2,116 motorcycle fatalities nationwide. In 2010 there were 4,502. The article argued that the rise in fatality rates was greatly due to relaxed motorcycle helmet laws. Jeff pulled the motorcycle registrations nationwide. When applying the motorcycle registration numbers, here is what Jeff discovered. In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. That means 0.055% of registered motorcycles were involved in a fatal accident. In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. That means 0.053% of registered motorcycles were involved in a fatal accident. Registration rates increased more than fatality rates. Those numbers paint a completely different (and more accurate) picture.
    The last thing I will point out is on page six of the study. It reads as follows:
    “People who do not wear helmets are more likely to be killed in a crash. Forty-one percent of motorcycle operators and 51% of motorcycle passengers who died in 2008 were not wearing a helmet.”

    Not to state the obvious but that would mean that 59% of motorcycle operators and 49% of motorcycle passengers who died in 2008 were wearing a helmet. It would appear that the majority of motorcycle fatality victims were wearing a helmet. Additionally, this statistic does not identify the cause of death in each of these fatalities. For the non-helmeted fatalities that died of trauma to internal organs, the fact that they were not wearing a helmet is irrelevant. For that matter, it is an irrelevant statistic for some who died of a head injury unless you are willing to jump to the conclusion that helmeted riders never die of head injuries. We know that is not the case. In the end this statistic tells us nothing.

    The second argument of the CDC study is that forcing all motorcyclists to wear a helmet would save money. This argument is problematic for several reasons. For starters it is not clear from where the study gets its numbers. For instance, the study states that the United States saved nearly 3 billion due to helmet use in 2008 and could have saved an additional 1.3 billion in 2008 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. How does the CDC come to that conclusion? How did the U.S. save this money? The study does not tell us.
    So how do we test the validity of these statements? I would suggest that one way is to look at our friends in the insurance industry. For those of you who have received my prior emails forgive me for plowing old ground here.

    If states that allow adults to make their own choice have higher costs we would expect to see that reflected in motor vehicle insurance rates since we know that the costs borne by the insurance industry are passed on to the consumer by way of insurance rates. However, a study of motor vehicle insurance rates do not support the argument that states that allow adult choice incur higher costs as a result. The top five most expensive jurisdictions for motor vehicle insurance in 2012 are Louisiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, West Virginia and Washington DC. (Insure.com) Out of that list only Oklahoma allows riders to choose (Michigan had a mandatory helmet law when the study was conducted so we count them as a universal helmet law state). The other four require the operators and passengers of motorcycles to wear helmets. The five cheapest states are Maine, Iowa, Wisconsin, Idaho and North Carolina. Of those only North Carolina requires riders to wear a helmet. To take it even further, only 2 of the ten cheapest states for motor vehicle insurance have mandatory helmet laws. The other eight either allow adults to choose for themselves or, as in the case of Iowa, simply have no law what so ever.

    If you look at the entire list there is no correlation between motor vehicle insurance rates and universal helmet laws. How can that be if the majority of states allow riders to make their own choice and that choice is creating such a public cost? It is because the public cost argument is a myth. According to the US Census Bureau there were 2,035,474 injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes 2009. 94,462 of those were related to motorcycle crashes. (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1107.pdf). That means that in 2009, only 4.7% of the motor vehicle crash related deaths and injuries involved motorcycles. Statistically, we are not a large enough segment of the population to contribute to the overall cost of motor vehicle related deaths and injuries.
    The last point I would make is that we should all beware when the government attempts to restrict people’s freedom to choose for themselves by using the public cost argument. Such an argument must ultimately lead to the conclusion that it is proper for the government to make choices for us in any area where there is a possible public cost. Let’s take head injuries and think it out to its logical conclusion. We will even use the numbers from those who would deny us choice.

    According to the CDC study, the United States could have saved 1.3 billion had had all motorcyclists worn helmets. Clearly the 1.3 billion must be costs associated with head injuries being that head injuries are the only injuries helmets are designed to prevent.
    In May of 2011 the CDC issued a study on traumatic brain injury related deaths from 1997-2007. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6005a1.htm?s_cid=ss6005a1_w) According to that study, from 1997 to 2007 the fatality rate due to traumatic brain injuries for motorcyclists was 14,972 per every 100,000 members of the total population. The number for occupants enclosed in a motor vehicle was 87,510 per every 100,000 members of the total population. I recognize that there are more auto drivers than motorcyclists, but if we are merely looking at costs it should not matter. A head injury sustained in a motorcycle accident does not cost any more that the same head injury sustained in an automobile accident. Additionally if you think the head injuries in automobile accidents were due to the victim not wearing a seatbelt, I would challenge you to sit in your car, put on your seatbelt and start knocking your head against the driver side door post. It is very easy to do.

    Now let’s take the 1.3 billion that, according to the CDC, the United States could have saved in 2008 had all motorcyclists worn a helmet. Does that mean that since the number of traumatic brain injury deaths is almost 6 times higher in automobile crashes than motorcycle crashes that the United States could have saved almost 7.8 billion dollars a year if all automobile occupants wore helmets? That is a pretty good argument for having the government require that all motor vehicle occupants to wear a helmet. Why should the public be forced to carry the financial burden caused by the automobile driver who carelessly chooses to drive his car without a helmet? Will the public ever accept that argument? Of course they won’t. However many of them want to apply that very logic to us.

    I am sure that some would point out that the above argument only applies to deaths. Injuries are what drive costs. The Brain Injury Association of Indiana did a study on the causes of traumatic brain injuries. (http://biausa.fyrian.com/Default.aspx?SiteSearchID=1192&ID=/search-results.htm) Part of the study focused on transportation related brain injuries. The study looked at injuries during 1995-1996 in 14 different states, about half of which allowed freedom of choice at the time of the study. Keep in mind that this association is not friendly to freedom of choice. They also support mandatory helmet laws. That being said, their study showed that 6% of transportation related brain injuries involved motorcyclists. 62% involved standard motor vehicles. That means that 10 times more traumatic brain injuries were caused in automobile accidents than in motorcycle accidents. Using the CDC’s numbers the United States could have saved 13 billion had every occupant in automobiles worn a helmet. The bottom line is that if you are willing to regulate motorcyclists based upon the public cost theory, then you are being hypocritical if you refuse to do the same thing to automobile occupants.
    You can even take the public cost argument further. Below is an excerpt from a 2004 CDC report on causes of death in the United States in 2000.

    The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85 000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75 000), toxic agents (55 000), motor vehicle crashes (43 000), incidents involving firearms (29 000), sexual behaviors (20 000), and illicit use of drugs (17 000).
    http://www.doctorslounge.com/primary/articles/obesity_death/

    Now according to NHTSA, in 2000 there were 2,897 motorcycle fatalities in the United States. We will assume half of those were not wearing helmets even though that according to the CDC numbers the actual number would be less. For the purposes of this argument we will further assume that every one of those fatalities who were not wearing a helmet would have survived had they worn a helmet. That means that if all motorcyclists had been forced to wear a helmet in 2000 we would have saved 1,449 lives. I rounded up. Why haven’t we made tobacco illegal? We could have saved 435,000 lives doing that. How about restricting the types of foods that restaurants and grocery stores can offer? We could have saved 400,000 lives doing that. Why isn’t alcohol illegal? We could have saved 85,000 lives in 2000 by removing people’s choice as to whether they should consume alcohol. Why don’t we outlaw firearms? That’s another 29,000 lives saved. By removing peoples choices in those areas the government could have saved 949,000 lives. Instead they want to take away our right to choose under the mistaken belief that they could save less than 2,000 lives. The argument is simply void of logic.
    When people read the CDC study many will automatically come to the conclusion that universal helmet laws are the solution to motorcycle accident related injuries and fatalities. However, when you analyze the available data, that is simply not the case. You have to make numerous assumptions and ignore facts to come to that conclusion. The government should not restrict the choices of a few adult Americans based upon the logic which is the basis of this study’s conclusions. No American should be in favor of that. If such logic can be used to restrict the rights of a few, it can certainly be used down the road to restrict the rights of the many. Personally I trust individuals to make choices for themselves. I agree with Ronald Reagan when he said the following:

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

  20. Russ Peterson

    A motorcyclist was struck and killed by a fire truck in Brooklyn, New York, while he was on his way to a memorial for another biker killed in a crash one year ago.

    Follow @msnbc_usThe motorcyclist, 46-year-old Reginald Brown of Brooklyn, was driving westbound on Monroe Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant when he collided with an FDNY fire truck at Marcy Avenue at about 4 p.m., officials said. He was a block away from his home.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Witness Danae Grandison said Brown’s body “flew off the motorcycle,” and he landed in front of a beauty salon. He was wearing a helmet.

    Today’s news, take a look at the last line here, 7/3/2012

  21. Russ Peterson

    Georgia, very sorry to hear about your son-in-laws brother and what happened to him. My concern here that people make choices everyday right or wrong in their lives. These choices that that make may at times involve more than what they bargained for and it may involve other people in those choices. From your statement above we have no idea if he was not carrying insurance?
    Here is a example: People go out hiking in the mountains every year, some of these people get lost and require search and rescue to go find them which costs manpower sometimes risking their own lives to save these people from their situations, where they have made that choice which is a risk. My point is in general here that in life everyone takes risks. Should every risk be backed by all these people whomever to be paying money before any type of risk is made outside of your home when you decide to make that choice? The list is endless on risks people choose to make. I don’t buy the philosophy that people show pay for that other than being insured. So does it make sense to pick on one certain group? No iy does not.

  22. Russ Peterson

    You know what is really interesting on this website is how all the posting from June 7,2012 end up as the last comments to this issue, a re-arrangement to fair warnings advantage I don’t know but it’s interesting.

  23. TJ

    PEOPLE,… this issue is not about helmets. It’s about FREEDOM! I wear a helmet EVERY TIME I go out on my bike, BUT I want the RIGHT TO CHOOSE to do so. Why? Because I live in the United States of AMERICA,…. the “Land of the FREE, and the home of the brave.” Stop trying to take away my RIGHT to live my life as a I chose, as I willingly face the consequences. I carry a sidearm (legally) for the day the liberal Socialists come to my door to take away my ‘banned by law for your own good’ matches so I don’t accidentally set myself on fire. Keep FREEDOM alive, “Let those who ride decide!”

  24. Chuck Butler

    First item Ricky has an obvious bias against bikers and really had his facts lined up to support his case like the death total per year of motorcyclist. Only one problem with that chart – what is it based on???

    Really simple fact in 1997 there where 2116 fatalities for 3.8 million motorcyclist or .055% deaths , in 2010 there where 4,502 fatalities for 8.4 million riders which works out to ..053%. So it appears that Rick like the rest of the liberal nanny nation media forgot to give all the real facts to the story.

    Now part on Thursday at 5:50 am, I was involved in a multi-car and single motorcycle accident. First point a helmet would not have saved my life, what saved my life is training, knowledge and 45+years of riding. The majority of my injuries occurred on my left leg and foot. I was not lucky – luck had nothing to do with it. Again it was training and knowledge. The knowledge that the road I ride on has the highest per day accident rate in Texas and the knowledge on what to do and how.

    This is the point that organizations like MRF and ABATE have been hammering on for years. Helmet do not and will not save your life if you don’t know what to do and when.

    As far as all of the sob stories about how a loved one lost their live, or was turned in to a vegetable, sorry for you loss, however I am willing to bet a helmet would not have done a damn thing for them except make them a vegetable.

  25. Russ Peterson

    Wanted to say thanks to you jeddy tranquil for being a voice for the riders. I ride and I wear a helmet. The statistical numbers these people come up with aren’t the true facts. Most people that have commented on here have a problem with the motorcyclist choosing not to wear a helmet and it is costing them money out of their pockets, it’s kind of funny in a way I see it. It’s like a bandwagon and by hell their on it and your gonna wear it. So there, neener neener neener! We won! So now what should we force people to do next, it’s costing us money. Let’s take headlights out cars at night……nobody should be driving after dark, that’s a good one! Cracks me up. Good post James Dean, exactly how I feel. Get the facts people before you start jumping on this helmet wearing bandwagon. Don’t force you views on people and don’t worry about all your money fixing broken up motorcyclists. It’s a microscopic amount compared to big government bailouts and a open checkbook spending! Thank about it, Thanks again Jeddy! You the Man! I’d Love to shake your hand!

  26. jeddy tranquill

    Just for the record I am the guy who “muzzled” the USDOT and NHTSA back in 1975 when I proved to Congress that these bureaucrats lied and lied again about helmet performance. Now you (rick) go and buy all their diatribe of propaganda hook line and sinker that has been built on fact number one and that is that DEAD BIKERS CANNOT SPEAK for themselves and if they could you would be told just how miserably a helmet and the law failed them. If you ever become interested in the “real truth” call me at 585 230 9303 and I will provide you with the same testimony that was given by me to Congress. We will not rest until the law is repealed in EVERY state because it did not work back then , is not working now and will NEVER work in the future. The only thing that does work is a properly trained biker who is taught NOT to rely on a helmet to “protect” them and therfore does NOT take the daredevil chances that helmet wearing promotes. I am the real expert with over 1.3 million miles of riding 56 out of my 70 years and will continue until I am boxed up and in the ground.

  27. Russ Peterson

    I’m absolutely overwhelmed at the concern here for motorcyclists safety and helmet issues, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I still think that if everyone that has posted on this issue that those people that choose when and where they feel like wearing a helmet should also jump on some of the overwhelming issues about safety in the United States. Such as climbing on your roof to put up Christmas light that if you fall and break your neck that your left there like road kill. If you ride your bike on a interstate or other busy roadway with your little plastic foam helmet thinking your invincible and every motorist is supposed to give you distance and you get hit you should be roadkill. I don’t think any of you have a cold enough heart to leave somebody for roadkill, so all you big talking commenters, somebody may come along when you are in a life or death situation and save your life at some point, just be thankful there are good people out there that give rats a$$ about you. You just never know you big talkers out there and you be thanking somebody for stopping on your account. There’s bigger problems in this world than trying to force people to wear helmets. Don’t do anything stupid yourself either, youv’e all taken a chance at some point, it’s like standing to close to edge of cliff just to get a better view. I know you’ve done it and you all just a bunch overhyped hypocrites.

  28. Gena

    I agree with previous comments that they are not taking into consideration the number of bikes on the road that has increased enormously. That said, I used to ride and chose to wear a helmet even though I lived in a state that had repealed it’s helmet law, most often I was the only one in the group wearing one, but that was my choice. I don’t think wearing a helmet should be mandatory with the exception of those under a specific age, be it 21 or 18. I do also know people that had serious head injuries in motorcycle accidents who were not wearing helmets. That was their choice. We all have to live (or not) with the choices we make. Leave motorcyclists alone to make theirs.

  29. James Dean

    How dare that hard working tax paying biker get in a accident and we have to foot part of the bill. Umm… We are footing the bill for thousands of people that aren’t even citizens. Not to mention how many drug attics and dope dealers we are giving welfare. I used to have to ride my motorcycle by the welfare office on my way to work everyday and see all these people lined up with their brand new cadillacs, big shiny wheels, gold teeth, and big gold necklaces, talking on the latest technology in cell phones. Granted there were some that I could tell needed to be there but there was a whole lot that had no business there. Just collecting a free check while I’m working everyday paying taxes and can’t afford dental or medical insurance and barely gas in my motorcycle.

  30. Matt Barnhart

    What a bunch of jerkoffs, want to take away everyones freedom until we all have none. I’m sick of idiots you like taking away our liberties one by one. Why don’t you just ban motorcycles, cigarettes, alcohol, fatty foods, pesticides, or anything else in the entire world that could be bad for you. Matter fact maybe we should ban cars too because they are dangerous as well. Lets just walk. Wait no you might trip over a rock and hit your head so lets make it mandatory to wear a helmet while walking. Then again you could still sprain your ankle and that would cost tax payers so nobody leave your homes. We will feed you from a tube so that you don’t choke, vegetables only of course. No tv’s as they could hurt your eyes. No computers you might get arthritis. Matter of fact all homes should be padded and you should remain in your straight jacket at all times. How can you sit there and bitch about what it costs to take care of injured motorcyclists. It’s not even a fraction of what it costs to take care of cancer patients which people do get without smoking by the way. Hell just leave everyone as roadkill that gets sick or injured period because it costs the non sick or non injured tax payers. If your worried about what it costs tax payers then why don’t you do something worthwhile and start with the politicians. Do something to help americans get affordable insurance so us motorcyclists can get insurance that would cover the cost if we were to wreck without a helmet instead of writing this biased garbage. I think we should make it a law that you should get a fine or go to jail every time you write this garbage.

  31. Kevin Baughman

    There are plenty of people who climb into cars EACH DAY. Are these a real necessity or just a convenience? Sometimes the operation of a car is just for, (gasp) FUN. Yet there are tens of thousands of wrecks (I can’t buy the PC, ACCIDENTS word) each year resulting in many deaths and injuries. Yet, we have not gotten to the point of requiring car occupants to wear titanium and Kevlar body protection. The very act of riding a motorcycle puts me at a higher exposure level to bodily harm due to not being wrapped in a steel Cage. I make this choice Each time I ride. I even spent ten years in the Navy’s Submarine community to ensure I have the right to make choices. Now days I have to go through a government checkpoint/inspection to travel to the next county or state (this is Hawaii, think about it, is your state next?), Now someone is arguing that we need laws to tell me how to dress? The head of a brain injury no-profit corporation is telling me that I may be no better of a person than road kill? WOW! There are European studies that show the total number of bicycle injuries went up after requiring the use of helmets on BICYCLES. What makes you PRO helmet LAW people the god of all who choose fewer than four wheels as a mode of transportation?

  32. Scott

    I’ve been on bikes my entire adult life. I wear a helmet. However I believe if someone chooses not to wear one that is their personal decision. We do not need the nanny state checking over every move we make. I further believe motorcycle only check points are discimination. Why don’t we have black people only check points or asian drivers only check points? You can pull me over. You aren’t touching my bike and I refuse any search of my person or property. either cite me or i’m leaving. grow up america.

  33. Nicki Rogers

    Here’s one for YOU MR. MICHAEL DABBS AND YOUR FOLLOWERS, If YOU are found with a cellphone on your person, ANY alcohol on your breath, find out you have been eating Sushi. or Steak Tartare, missed doctors or dental appointments, didn’t take your prescribed medication or forgot to take it at anytime, ate red meat, didnt exercise this week, your BMI is not ideal, or you have ever done ANYTHING others deem DANGEROUS OR UNHEALTHY in their OPINION, WE will leave you for roadkill! !! Oh but it was your choice…. Defense Rests….

    – A Harley Riding Trauma Nurse and former EMT

  34. Fred Wheeler

    @Bob Allende it’s not the stupid bikers it’s the morons in cages who are too busy to stop making a phone call they run over us stupid bikers. It’s the idiot’s who need to text or read or put on mascara or half a dozen other things then pay attention and drive. I wear a helmet not because of the law but because of nut jobs like the driver’s ed instructor who rear ended my Gold Wing one of the largest touring bikes made because he wasn’t paying attention. Motorcyling is a risk based activity take cars off the road and that risk goes down significantly. So look twice save a life motorcycles are everywhere.

  35. Ken & Deb

    As a motorcyclist I would like to take issue with the recent article Despite Death Tolls, Motorcycle Groups Strive To Muzzle U.S. Regulators by Rick Schmitt on June 7, 2012.

    In my opinion, a large part of the article questions the value of motorcycle rider safety training. Going as far as to use the 2009 study Effectiveness of Motorcycle Training and Licensing. The following sentence in the conclusion of the 2009 study on page 212 raises the question why it was referenced and the validity of the entire article: One of the major findings of the review is that many of the studies suffered from methodological shortcomings that cast varying degrees of doubt on their findings.

    Also, the acknowledgment of the VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) provided by the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) are inaccurate. Even though data inaccurate it was used on page 211 with the following explanation: It is anticipated that the inaccuracy should not greatly affect a comparison between trained and untrained motorcyclist in the same area and time frame since they are both calculated with the same data. ‘The fact remains the data was highly flawed.

    In conclusion, I wish the article had been less contemptuous towards motorcyclists, motorcyclists rights and data was accurate.

  36. Max

    I’m totally in favor of the “road kill” solution. I feel no need to enact laws that would save the lives of stupid adults. I just don’t want to pay for their health care. Though I’m actually fine paying/subsidizing the health care needs of people who are actually trying to take care of themselves. In fact, I’d be in favor of radical libertarian solutions across the board. Don’t want to pay any taxes? Great–let’s create a special status for residents who have renounced their citizenship. You get a special card, and must wear some kind of identifying garment at all times. You have the right to be here and work, but that’s about it. But you can’t drive on the roads unless you pay a hefty annual fee. You can’t own property. Any goods that receive a government subsidy anywhere on the supply chain, including food, will come with two prices–one for people who pay taxes, a higher one for people who don’t, in to make up for government subsidies they’re not paying into. You will have no rights. Police, EMTs and firefighters will be legally barred from helping you in any way. If someone attacks you anywhere besides your legal residence, you will have no right to defend yourself–in fact, if you do, police will be authorized to use lethal force to protect your attacker against you. You want to live the libertarian dream? I say bring it on.

  37. Bob Allende

    In addition, we may have to take care of bikers’ children if a parent is killed, e.g., food stamps and welfare.

    Cities spend thousands of dollars on police, coroners, and city attorneys investigating a fatal accident.

    And innocent survivors might suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and medical cost because a biker was too stupid and too selfish to wear a helmet.

  38. Artie

    I started riding a motorcycle again after many years. I used to ride a lot when I was younger and am now 60 yrs old. I have recently taken the motorcycle safety course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Because I have the previous riding experience, I know that some dangerous situations for riders are predictable. For example, risks are greater later in the afternoon, also, intersections, younger (and older) car drivers are more likely not to see a biker, and there are other situations too. Knowing these things can make riding a safer experience. I think that the MSF should focus on these kinds of things to a greater extent than they now do so. New motorcyclists could drive more defensively and be safer as a result. I personally like riding with a helmet. I have a DOT approved helmet that is the lightest and smallest made and it is great. It keeps my ears warm during the cooler months, cuts down on fatigue due to wind buffeting and noise, and actually looks pretty cool. I feel naked and exposed without it.

  39. Sean

    Regarding Mr. Bongard’s impassioned invocation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, driving and riding are not rights. They are privileges. If it is society’s collective decision to require you to wear a helmet, you’ll wear one. And you’ll have the right to free speech to complain about it every day.

  40. Lobo

    So, 732 deaths in 2009 were due to not wearing a helmet – where is the explanation for the remaining increase (from 1997) of 1614 deaths? Seems like we should be paying attention to the root cause of those deaths. Oh wait, that would be the “I didn’t see the motorcyclist” excuse that nobody wants to hold (distracted) automobile drivers for. The same people who are probably commenting how our “rights” don’t count and want to mandate laws on motorcyclists. Let’s mandate helmets in automobiles – how many of the 30,000+ deaths were due to head injuries in automobiles? Theres a bigger opportunity for the concerned to save lives. Let those who ride, decide.

  41. Fred Wheeler

    I live in a helmet law state, it was enacted in 1967 so Alabama could maintain the funding from the Fed’s. Unfortunately for the riders in Alabama it was all that out legislators did, they didn’t consider rider training, they didn’t consider a skills test evaluation, they didn’t even consider that someone 14 may not need to ride a motorcycle in traffic even with a helmet. No all they done was cave to the NHTSA and bend to big government, just for a few miles of asphalt. Whet most riders are up in arms over is the “safety” check money should have been spent funding more accident investigations in the crash causation study being done at Oklahoma State University instead the government stripped about 600 crashes and decided to only study 300, that’s 600 fewer then Professor Harry Hurt’s study, instead of forcing states to fund rider education the same way they do drivers ed in schools, instead of having more Motorist Awareness programs that tell those in cars they need to look for us. If government would just get past telling riders what to wear and worry more about educating everyone I’m sure the rate would go down.

  42. Rusty Bongard

    As long as people can have the choice to smoke, over-eat, not practice physical fitness, drink alcohol, disregard physician guidance regarding their wellbeing, and a plethora of other lifestyle choices, then I can choose whether or not to wear a helmet when I ride. The medical costs of obesity related heart disease and diabetes make non-helmeted head injuries look like a penny on a football field. I always ask you idiots why, since there are 10 times the number of TBI resultant from car crashes compared to motorcycle crashes, you don’t push for helmets in cars. And you ALL continue to ignore the question.
    I also find it disturbing that americans completely disregard the Declaration of Independence and Constitution which were created to protect indivdiual liberties from the likes of YOU. The forefathers intelligently, and with tremendous knowledge of the worlds historical record, created these founding legal documents with the intent that government would be instituted specifically to preserve, defend, and enhance these unalienable rights that came to each of us from our god. Definitively the intent was to establish a Constitutional Republican Form of government which protected and defended the rights of individuals from groups, majorities, and democratic socialism. That you facistic people feel you opinions and social concerns outrank the rights of individuals is as abhorrent to the genesis of this country as can be imagined.

  43. Sean

    Is the motorcycle lobby really stronger than the insurance lobby? Where are the insurers in this conversation?

  44. Joe

    The police are going to set up roadblocks and check motorcyclists for “violations?”

    What the hell is this country coming to?

  45. Bruce Rester

    After posting the above comment I read the preceeding three pages of posts, and realized I had been deficient in failing to comment, as others have, on the fact that most car-motorcycle accidents are caused by the car driver’s inattention and disregard for the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. The most common excuse is, “But officer, I didn’t SEE the motorcycle”.
    I have the cure for that excuse. Wear the biggest hogleg you’ve got, in a very conspicuous shoulder holster, and I GUARANTEE they will see you, and not get within 50 feet of your motorcycle! If you are fortunate enough to live in a state that has not stripped you of the right to self defense, try it….it works!

  46. Bruce Rester

    This is another typical example of liberally-biased nanny-state journalism. The article conveniently omits the fact that motorcycle registration has increased at a greater rate than fatalities: the 2010 rate is only 0.053% of riders, DOWN .002% from the cited 1997 numbers.
    My experience in 47 years of riding motorcycles is that helmets severely restrict visibility and hearing, and greatly contribute to rider fatigue. The effect of this is to greatly increase the probability that a rider will get into an accident in the first place. I think it should be up to the individual to decide whether to take the chance that he will be more likely to get into an accident, or take the chance that he is more likely to be injured.
    And as far as motorcycle checkpoints go, what part of the Fourth Amendment don’t these people understand?

  47. Dwight Kalas

    Mr.Schmitt saw you on The News Hour the other night.I am not a rider..I was originally against helmet laws.I believe in freedom of choice.I guess the question should be put to survivors of motorcycle crashes and ask them if they could still talk if they could do it again what would they do.I knew a famed photographer who crashed.he went from the life of a party to a man who could manage a walk to the tavern but could not talk.

  48. Mike Fenerty

    Nothing wrong with liberty, but is our society ready to leave a no helmet biker to bleed to death if there is no proof of insurance? We need the freedom to stop subsidizing their medical costs.

  49. George Ehmer

    I CHOOSE to not wear a helmet. As a responsible adult(39),I realize the dangers and CHOOSE to accept them, that is why I have insurance, remember when we were told to get or not drive or ride unless we have insurance. So if I have said insurance, WHY IN THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO FORCE MORE OF YOUR PERSONAL VIEW POINTS ON ME? I don’t tell you how to drive,maybe I should, how would you like that? You can put a helmet on my head ONLY after you PRY my gun from my COLD, DEAD HAND.

  50. Clark Edwards

    Last night I saw Dr. Phil’s program on Drinking and Driving. See if he will do one on Riding and Dying. Show him sitting on a dead bare headed rider’s bike then on a live helmented riders wreck. The bikes will be similar but not the riders.

  51. Roy Barnes

    Nice unbiased reporting there Rick. Saw your interview on this article and your defensive crossed-arm posture. You really can’t stand for somebody to have liberties that you don’t understand, do you?

  52. Jack Tereck

    I know of an individual who moved to Florida from New York because his needed organ transplant was short listed due to the helmet laws. He is alive today because of someone else’s choice for liberty from helmet requirements.

  53. Judith Claire

    For young boys and girls who prefer to have wind in their hair…and choose not to have or can’t afford insurance…ask them to put names of doctors who will give free care for head injuries and do most of the care in their homes. Many doctors, nurses who ride motorcycles will be glad to offer free services…perhaps a church would allow beds where motorcycle owners can hang out and visit injured and nursing homes for brain dead. Think outside the helmets. Ignorance of wearing helmets to protect the brain is not against the law. Ignorance is bliss!

  54. William E. Bruner, MD

    As a physician and a relatively conservative republican, I have seen too many severe head injuries due to motorcycle accidents over the years. In Ohio, you are fined for not wearing a seatbelt in a car with up to 7 airbags, yet allowed to ride totally unprotected on a “bike” without a helmet. I agree that everyone ends up paying the medical costs for the “freedom” of not wearing a helmet. Though not a big fan of over-regulation, this is one area where states need to do more!

    WEB

  55. Georgia D. Davis

    My son-in-laws brother was in a comma in a vegetable state for 9 years after a motorcycle accident on which he was not wearing a helmet. Tax payers paid for every day he was in a nursing home, also for a handicap van so his parents could take him to the hospital; and for many stays in the hospital. I have other members of my family who ride bikes. THey wear helmets. My suggestion is that states require riders either a helmet or purchase a bond to pay for nursing home care for those who do not want to wear a helmet. Individual choice is great if it does not inflict cost to the tax payer.

  56. Chuck Cox

    This web site is run by an organization whose very name indicates that they are a bunch of leftist do-gooder meddling “Chicken Littles”. The SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING!

  57. Winger1

    We have had enough of Big-Brother sticking his nose into our business re. personal choice. And that includes the money making seat-belt laws that were only developed to provide probale cause for other money making oppourtunuties. Back-off and you politicians are under advisement not to fu#k are further with our personal freedoms.

  58. john herpfer

    the only time ive been stopped for a ‘saftey check”
    i was asked for valid reg valid ins card and license
    oh yeh there was a comment about my mufflers
    glad to see my govt protecting me with my tax dollars

  59. Cooper

    Most fatalities in auto accidents are due to head injuries. If requiring everyone who rides in an automobile to wear a helmet would greatly reduce the number of fatalities in auto accidents (as I suspect it would), should we then require that in the name of social consequences? Imagine the uproar!

  60. Bubbles

    The issue of mandatory seat belts versus mandatory helmet use is one I really take issue with. There are federal regulations on the manufacturing of seat belts, but there is only a NHTSA recommendation for the manufacturing of a helmet. If your seat belt fails, you have the right to bring suit on everyone from the manufacturer of the fiber all the way to auto manufacturer. A seat belt can be tested and reused. When your car is involved in a wreck, you don’t have to replace the seat belts. If your helmet is tested, it is no longer usable. Therefore, if your helmet fails how would one know that it was safe in the first place? And is the federal government going to go through all the red tape to make sure that every imported helmet is to standard. Oh yeah! There is also the issue of the states that have mandatory helmet laws also having a list of approved helmets. But then have the state provide that list and wow! they don’t actually have a list they can produce.

    If one is going to tout collected data, then the data should be compiled more accurately and with more detail. Enough folks have commented to the factual data. Is it not odd that the number of motorcycle deaths is not broken down by cause of wreck, cause of death (hed vs. blunt force trauma, and elimanation of bicycle, moped and pedestrian deaths?

    Unfortunately there are very few investigative reporters, but then we can’t be spouting the truth now can we?

  61. Chris

    There is an old saying…”Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Motorcycle deaths as a percentage of motorcycle riders have actually decreased. For some reason, people who do not ride are often concerned about whether motorcyclists wear helmets. WHY NOT LET THOSE WHO RIDE DECIDE?

  62. Dixie ABATE of Alabama

    Excellent comments. And I’d add one more thing: If you want to make up some numbers for “social cost”, then make up some really big ones for the medical bills and lost productivity for obesity/diabetes/smoking. I’m sure that when people who are unhealthy because of their chosen lifestyle have a brain injury from the heart attack or stroke that those behaviors cause, Michael Dabbs will refuse to treat them, leaving them there like roadkill.

    Don’t talk to me about forcing riders to wear helmets until you make some checkpoints to write tickets for people who might have Twinkies, cigarettes, potato chips, and soda pop in the car with them. Oh, wait, you say – you get money from the big tobacco lobbies? Big food? Can’t touch THAT issue.

    Here’s what I wrote to the Governor of Michigan:

    Dear Governor Snyder,

    I know you are probably inundated with email that reflects the writers’ passionate feelings about whether they think a motorcycle rider should be forced to wear a helmet or not. I feel passionately about the necessity for me to wear the brightest, most obnoxious full-face helmet I can find, and I feel equally passionate that my brothers on the road should be allowed to make the choice to wear or not wear a helmet for themselves.

    I am not among your constituency, but what you do matters to riders in every state. If Michigan riders are allowed the freedom to choose, that makes one more precedent that will be in place when we in “helmet states” challenge the very same infringement on our freedom in our state. And challenge it we will.

    We really do not need so much legislation. We’re drowning in it. We are finding ourselves caught in a slowly tightening noose that is choking any last breath out of the life our founding fathers came here to find, and we’re doing it to ourselves. I’m so tired of being saved from myself, I could scream.

    There are hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders in the United States and we prefer to spend our vacation time and our money in states that we perceive as motorcycle-friendly. If you sign this bill, it is sure to have a beneficial financial effect immediately, and forever after. We riders hang tight, and we are a group that is perhaps more politically aware than any other, because we’ve had to fight tooth and nail since the 60’s to keep our necks out of the noose of the nanny state.

    I don’t know whether you ride or not. I hope you do. There’s nothing like it.

    With all respect,

    Kris Cook
    Dixie ABATE of Alabama

    LET THOSE WHO RIDE DECIDE.

  63. Cletis

    @Red Dog:

    1. Congratulations on assembling a generic list of disingenuous debate tactics and then flavoring them to be anti-helmet-law-specific. Of course, you give no indication of where this list of rules came from; if it is from a respected motorcycle rights advocacy group, some unaffiliated individual, or, as seems most likely, from a pro-helmet-law advocate like yourself, trying to implicate the anti-helmet-law movement with manufactured false evidence. Whatever the answer may be, your implication is a great example of the very type of disingenuous debating tactics you purport to be exposing.

    2. The motivations and/or affiliations of those posting here who are against mandatory helmet laws are obvious. I have to wonder, however, what you motivations and/or affiliations might be. You don’t mention what they are, or what your interest is in working for helmet laws.

    3. “The fact that the MRF and AMA immediately sent out Action Alerts calling on members to ‘comment bomb this story like no other’ (MRF) provides me with the most convincing evidence of correctness and importance of this story.”

    Completely illogical. The fact that the truth of this story is disputed by someone you obviously dislike makes you presume that it is “correct and important”? You should instead try making an evaluation based on the content of the story itself.

    3. “Most of the posted comments in opposition to the article are a re-hash of the information contained in the Action Alerts from these two organizations.”

    And this has what effect on their truthfulness? Many true statements have been repeated over and over by many individuals throughout human history; their mere repetition does not turn them from truth into lies.

    4. You question the validity of the Hurt Report because it was published in 1981. I can understand this, as the numbers in that report deflate many of the arguments used by pro-helmet advocates to this day, so you would need to attack it. The Hurt Report remains, however, the most comprehensive motorcycle safety study ever done — and is therefore the single best source for reliable statistics to use when debating the topic, Neither its input data nor its conclusions have lost any relevance since its publish date.

    5. I can agree with some of what you have posted; for example: “MRF and the State Motorcyclist Rights Organizations (like ABATE) mix a safety message with their freedom-of-choice lifestyle message.” I personally prefer that cold, hard facts and statistics are what we use to conduct debates about real-world, empirically-measurable phenomena like the relationship between mandatory helmet laws and fatalities, injuries, and costs to the general public — but since irrelevant, manipulative, maudlin emotional continue to be effective at swaying people’s opinions — or at swaying the votes of elected officials who believe that their constituency will be swayed by them — we will continue to see these annoying tactics used by parties on all sides of all issues. I also agree that several anti-helmet-law arguments made here, like “Helmets are tested by Schnell and DOT for safety. This test is completed by droping (sic) the helmet from a height of 15 feet. It passes if it does not crack or break. This is equivelent (sic) to an impact at 15 MPH.” and “Most are hard to see out of” and “When is the last time the helmet has been tested… the 60s” are factually flawed. Such poorly-thought-out, ridiculous comments certainly taint the argument they are attempting to support, but should be ignored when conducting a rational analysis of the debate.

  64. max frisson

    True Fact: According to the Center for Disease Control, falling out of bed accounts for 1.8 million emergency room visits and over 400,000 hospital admissions each year.
    450 people DIE annually from falling out of bed. Yes, killed by their choices!

    What is the horrible social cost of beds being up in the air? That is a dangerous personal choice, a choice you should not have the right to inflict the cost of on society.

    A National Helmet Law would save about 500 lives. 450 people die annually from falling out of bed. If helmets must be mandated to save about 500 motorcycle riders then we need to sleep on the floor or wear a helmet.

  65. JM

    The charts above do not account the for the increased number of people riding motorcycles, so the data is meaningless w/out that.

    And really, if we’re all the concerned about ‘safety’, lets ban any kind of fast food. That kills more people then motorcycle crashes do. No more Big Macs.
    Lets mandate what people should eat to get rid of heart disease and obesity.

    Also, lets ban smoking – no one really needs to smoke do they?

    Also, why not ban liquor and beer. They contribute to drunken driving deaths, so, wouldn’t that be safer?

    Really….where does it stop? When will it affect something YOU care about?

    Let the rider decide.

  66. Stephen (Steve) Johnson

    Having the government taking more control of our personal choices has become a true ‘revenue generating business’ that allows some cluless and vulgar comments the like uttered by Mr. Michael Dabbs to be seen in print.
    Remember this guy is the President of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, that means comments promoting his organization are made in the organization’s best interests.
    His suggesting any of us bikers injured while not wearing a helmet be “Left there like roadkill” got the desired efffect, me hoping to hear how the experiment went when his own brain was dissected searching for ‘sheer stupidity’…

  67. Irish

    Inflammatory article twists facts, denigrates motorcyclists

    More Info
    Support the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) in our efforts to protect your freedoms to ride!

    An article by Fairwarning.org published on June 7 and subsequently picked up by USA Today and other news outlets, “Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators,” contains biased reporting and derogatory language toward motorcyclists.

    The article selectively cites statistics that lead uninformed readers to the conclusion that motorcyclist fatalities are on the rise and that helmet mandates and motorcycle-only checkpoints are necessary to promote public safety.

    Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, is quoted in the article, saying, “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

    This statement displays crassness and exemplifies editorial bias because there is no evidence that injured motorcyclists are any more likely to be a public burden than other roadway users. A Harborview Medical Center study published in 1988 reported that injured motorcyclists in the trauma center relied on public funds a lower percentage of the time than did automobile drivers to pay their hospital bills during the same time period. Also, a 1992 study by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center reported that automobile drivers and motorcyclists have their medical costs covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.

    The article selectively cites statistics to suggest that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, yet failed to point out that motorcycle sales surged dramatically during the same period, or that motorcycle fatalities dropped 16 percent in 2009 and have stayed relatively flat in 2010 and 2011.

    The article portrays rider education as ineffective, yet failed to cite the federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documenting the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: “The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, “Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing.” The report states: “Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”

    All of this information was provided to the author of the article, Rick Schmitt, in correspondence with the AMA before publication. The AMA can only assume that the Fairwarning.org editor selectively edited the reporter’s copy to fit a preconceived desire to promote helmet mandates and motorcycle-only checkpoints.

    The AMA strongly advocates helmet use and protective apparel, but opposes mandates because they do nothing to prevent crashes. Motorcycle crash prevention should be the overarching policy of our elected officials and the regulatory community. Programs such as rider training and motorist awareness are effective, yet history has taught us that when helmet mandates are enforced, scarce resource dollars are siphoned away from these programs.

    The AMA opposes motorcycle-only checkpoints because they target a select group of legal road users simply because they choose to ride on two- or three-wheeled vehicles.

    We applaud the courage of legislators, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who have taken on the powerful anti-motorcycling interest groups that seem less concerned with promoting policies that prevent motorcycle crashes, and more concerned with reducing insurance payments after crashes occur.

    With more and more newspapers printing articles attributing this biased story, the AMA needs your help to send a pre-written letter to newspaper editors if you see this report in your paper. To improve the chance of your response being printed, please personalize your letter.

    Please join the AMA to help us fight these efforts by biased reporters and regulations that thwart your freedom to ride. More members means more clout against our opponents, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/membership/join.

  68. max frisson

    What do you want to bet that this is part of a well-funded effort to introduce a National Helmet Mandate using Federal Highway funds in Congress this fall. It will use this article, the CDC Report issued today and more pieces yet to come to cast a negative light on motorcycling and bring upon us a whole ream of new laws. The same people that will push this through are the one’s who will follow with regulations like they have in Germany. Mandated boots, gloves, padded jackets and reflective gear. They will restrict motorcycle modification and they will KILL the business n the USA.

    That is their goal, to make motorcycling so unattractive as to make it even rarer that it is now.

    And I will predict that you will find something like the Cell Phone companies and Auto makers behind the funding to avoid distracted driving legislation.

  69. Ellen

    As always, it’s NONE of government’s business; never has been, never will be. Very very little of what they rule over is in any way lawful. They rule by color-of-law, which is NO law. People have always had the right to do as they please as long as they do not infringe on others’ rights but we’ve purposely not been taught that at any level of the public indoctrination system. It’s past time to learn how things are SUPPOSED to be and then INSIST as a massive group of free people that our rights be respected.

    Start now by eliminating ICLEI that infests your local government. This is Agenda 21 which is stealthily destroying your rights and your right to own property, the basis for ALL rights.

    As Indiana did, make it a law that if the thugs in costumes and badges invade your house–no warrant, no probable cause–they can be met with lethal force, as is our right.

    Get your state parasites to nullify ovomit care, NDAA, PATRIOT Act, Homeland “Security” for starters in your state, for starters.

  70. Morghan

    It is our responsibility to look out for our own health and safety, any choice we make that only effects us is nobody’s business save our own. Those of us who want to be under the constant protection of big nanny need to opt-in and leave the rest of us out of it.

    For the record, I do not ride a motorcycle, I don’t even drive a car while living in town. Walking and public transit is fine for me, but that doesn’t make my voice any less valid. They come for small populations like motorcycle riders first, then they can hold up the liberties stolen from small groups as justification for stealing them from us all.

    If things keep going the way they are it won’t be long before I have a legally mandated protective suit I must don before walking three blocks to the corner store. You know… Just in case.

  71. Red Dog

    The conclusion of years of research on the effectiveness of helmets and all-rider helmets laws has just been confirmed once again by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The conclusion:

    HELMETS ARE PROVEN TO SAVE LIVES AND MONEY AND UNIVERSAL HELMET LAWS ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO INCREASE USE.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Helmet Use Among Motorcyclist Who Died in Crashes and Economic Cost Savings Associated With State Motorcycle Helmet Laws – United States, 2008-2010, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2012, Vol. 61/No.23, June 15, 2012. This report can be found at:
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm6123.pdf

  72. John Skookum

    I wouldn’t care if a hundred people a day were dying of motorcycle accidents. We have to stop you nannies on helmets and seatbelts, or next you’ll be reaching in our showers to adjust the taps, and taking food off our plates when you think we’ve had enough. Get out of our beautiful free country, you fascist enemy filth.

  73. Marc

    Maybe when emergency responders arrive at a heart-attack patient and that person weights 250+ pounds with a double-cheeseburger nearby, they should be left behind! Dabbs is out of touch!

    quote: He added that the personal freedom that riders seek would have socially unacceptable consequences if carried to its logical extreme. “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet,” Dabbs said. “Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

  74. A Critic

    If you really want to reduce motorcycle injuries – ban motorcycles! Works for crack, prostitution, handguns, etc…right?

  75. echoraven

    As a motorcyclist, I wear a helmet 100% of the time. Not only for safety, but comfort.

    That being said, I oppose helmet laws. Pro-helmet legislation is nothing but politicians picking a easy target for “the public good”. Want to reduce traffic fatalities? Ban cars and expand public transportation. The benefits as far as public good, cost savings, environmental etc. would be far beyond astronomic, but how far would it go? How honest are they being with that “for the public good” crap?

    Infringing on freedom is easy, when it’s not your own freedom being infringed upon…

  76. Dale Morgan

    I’ve been riding dirt and street bikes for about 40 years. A full-coverage helmet is just one piece of body protection I wear every time I ride. ATGATT – All The Gear, All The Time is my policy. Armored riding jacket, pants, boots and gloves, and my helmet. My bike and riding gear are as colorful and visable (to other drivers) as possible. That said, it still should be a personal choice. I also question the idea that not wearing helmets increase medical costs. Sadly, it seems more likely that you’ll die if you’re in a motorcycle crash if you’re not wearing a helmet than to sustain long-term medical costs and disability. Helmets won’t protect from the most violent crashes – say a head-on with a semi, but in many cases, nothing would prevent such a fatality, including riding in a car with seatbelts and airbags. Thousands of people DO die in such crashes despite all of the protection built into a modern automobile.

    It DOES bother me that the government wants to decide what I should and shouldn’t do in the supposed interest of safety. It’s quite easy to point to someone else and make a decision for thier safety. Want to save a lot more lives than requiring motorcycle helmets – how about mandatory helmets for all drivers and passengers in ALL motor vehlcles? And….how come there are no safety restraints, even seatbelts, in school busses?

  77. Boone

    This is a propaganda push to have the government control everything we do.

    Let those who ride decide!

    Why don’t you report on all the drugs & illegals crossing the borders? That effects my overall safety more than wearing a fiberglass hat when I ride!

  78. mark

    state the facts, not the BS slant with which you report what you want people to know. the fact is motorcycle registration has increased dramatically, fatality % has dropped and rider ( & driver) training is WAY more important to injury reduction than wearing a helmet. i always wear a helmet, but i don’t believe i have the right to tell th enext person if they should or shouldn’t. the secret to reducing injuries is accident avoidance, not more mandated safety equipment. the best way to do that is training for motorcycle riders and vehicle operators. i know, lets make the speed limit 10 mph everywhere, that will reduce injuries!!!!

  79. Red Dog

    Pete terHost, AMA Spokesperson in his post sites the old Hurt report regarding the effectiveness of rider training (“The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” and the NHTSA 2005 Promising Practices report (“Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”) as part of his justification for opposing helmet laws.

    One old report and one report that says the effectiveness of rider training on crash reduction is mixed. This is in the face of undeniable and overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of helmets and all rider helmet laws in saving lives and eliminating and reducing injuries. Why doesn’t he, as the spokesperson of the AMA , just tell us that rider training AND wearing a helmet are both important – both should be part of comprehensive motorcyclist safety efforts. If the AMA and MRF would spend as much effort and money on educating riders on the importance of wearing a quality helmet, maybe we wouldn’t need mandatory laws.

  80. Red Dog

    Thanks for the excellent article. The fact that the MRF and AMA immediately sent out Action Alerts calling on members to “comment bomb this story like no other” (MRF) provides me with the most convincing evidence of correctness and importance of this story. Most of the posted comments in opposition to the article are a re-hash of the information contained in the Action Alerts from these two organizations. It is obvious these biker lobbyist organizations feel threatened by the facts presented in the story. It is sad that these organizations hold so much power and yet represent such a small percentage of the riding public. State ABATE organizations are often less than 1 % of the riding public, yet are the voice for all motorcyclists in state legislatures as is similar for MRF and AMA on a national level.

    MRF and the State Motorcyclist Rights Organizations (like ABATE) mix a safety message with their freedom-of-choice lifestyle message. They allow and encourage the use of false and misleading information like that in many of these comments. If AMA spokesperson, Pete terHorst and MRF Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs, Jeff Hennie really cared about motorcyclist safety (i.e. about injuries and deaths of those who ride) as opposed to their “freedom agenda” they would be posting comments correcting these false or misleading statements by their members and followers.

    Here are a couple outrageous and totally incorrect statements I copied from earlier posts:

    Helmets are tested by Schnell and DOT for safety. This test is completed by droping the helmet from a height of 15 feet. It passes if it does not crack or break. This is equivelent to an impact at 15 MPH. Most 15 MPH accidents do not result in a fatality.
    I would like to have a investigative reporter do a story on motor cycle helmets.

    Most are hard to see out of,hot hot hot to ride with and lack proper ventelation
    for comfort.

    What this article fails to lay out is the amount of deaths from states with helmet laws compared to states with. Missouri has a higher motorcycle fatality number compared to Arkansas which has no law. Also, lets talk about the helmet. I personnaly have buried 2 close friends that dies because the strap on their helmet cut off their esophogus and they chocked to death. When is the last time the helmet has been tested… the 60s. Bikes today are faster, traffic is heavier, and yet we are still being forced to wear 50 year old technology.

  81. Debra Lutje

    My first reaction was to laugh. The author cannot really believe this propaganda. This article is offensive on too many levels to count. Many of the so called statistics are wrong and some are just plain dangerous.
    The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated over 120,000 airplane incidents, over 60,000 surface transportation incidents, and just 6 individual motorcycle incidents in their entire 44 year history — Apparently enough investigation to warrant adding mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists on their “top ten most wanted list”. Any time the government starts to single out a small group and try to legislate their behavior everyone should be concerned. You may be next! No more cute wool hats for the skiers, no more cowboy hats for western equestrians.

  82. Les

    Just my .02… I wear a helmet because I choose to. (Helmet optional state-PA) I do not for one minute count on that to save my life unless involved in a very low speed incident. It may keep my brain from oozing out, but there are just too many other body parts that will get damaged in any incident, especially if another vehicle is involved, or some kind of object, like a tree. And how many of us dress properly to protect the rest of our body, should we be involved in an mishap?

    Rider education is the first important step for not only beginning riders, but even those of us that have been riding, be it 2 years or 20. But all the rider education will not completely free us from the danger we face each day, from careless, inattentive drivers, gravel, wildlife, weather, slippery manhole covers, we’re at the mercy of the environment we love to be in on our iron horses. Oh, and common sense plays a big role in each rider’s safety as well, but you can’t regulate that, nor testosterone.

    I believe a rider should have the choice. I wear a shorty in the summer, sometimes a 3/4 if it’s cool, and full face in the fall when the temps start to drop. I also occasionally putter around my neighborhood sans helmet, somewhat rural, not too much traffic, usually before I put the horse in the shed. But out in the traffic I choose to be covered. Ride safe, no matter what your choice!

  83. Red Dog

    THE DIRTY DOZEN: A GUIDE FOR ANTI-HELMET-LAW BIKERS
    What to Say to Get Your Way

    INTRODUCTION: This guide is provided for those new to arguing either for repeal of helmet laws or against enactment of these totalitarian laws. We have proven the effectiveness of these tactics through extensive use since the early ’70s in the fight for our rights. We have learned what works and what doesn’t, and using these “Dirty Dozen” tactics will increase your chances of getting your way by 73.7 percent.

    1. Use statistics in a misleading way. Using statistics is a good way to get people to listen. The use of statistics makes people believe your statement is a statement of fact. There are lots of times when you can actually be truthful and let people jump to a false conclusion that supports your claim. Here are a couple of good examples that regularly work:

    The first one uses fatality data. Fatality data is usually reported as the number of deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles or the number of deaths per estimated miles ridden. Just say, “There is little or no difference in the fatality rates between states with helmet laws and states without helmet laws.” You haven’t lied, and people jump to the false conclusion that this “statistical statement of fact” proves that helmet laws are not effective. What you don’t say is that when important variables other than helmet laws are accounted for—like weather, alcohol use, and length of riding season—research shows that helmet laws actually do have an impact on reducing deaths and injuries. Don’t say anything about these other significant variables, though. If you let people jump to the wrong conclusion, you can’t be accused of lying.

    A second good “fact” is to say that helmets are tested at impact speeds of only 13 mph. This will get listeners to jump to the false conclusion that helmets are not effective in protecting the head and brain in crashes with pre-crash speeds higher than 13 mph. And as everyone knows, no one ever drives or rides at 13 mph or lower except when starting out or stopping. People don’t need to know that 13 mph is the approximate impact speed that results from the “drop test” helmets are subjected to during Department of Transportation (DOT) testing or that the 13-mph value isn’t the highest speed at which a helmet is effective, but is the 90th percentile of the chosen six-foot drop-test height derived from the accident type identified in the Hurt Report of 1981(and verified numerous times since). Don’t explain that this means that in 90 percent or more of real-life motorcycle crashes, the rider suffers a blow to the head by falling off the motorcycle from approximately a six-foot height, thus hitting the ground at approximately 13 mph. Just state the “fact” and let your listeners (hopefully busy senators and representatives who don’t do their own research) jump to a false conclusion.

    2. Use outdated research when the information supports your cause, even though you know the research is old, the research methods were highly questionable, and newer, credible research provides contradictory evidence. The best example of this is to say, “Studies show wearing a helmet contributes to neck injuries.” This is the famous “Goldstein” study from 1986, so no one can say you are lying. Don’t mention that this study has been highly criticized in the professional literature or that there is new research from doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that shows helmeted motorcyclists are less likely to suffer a cervical spine injury after a crash than non-helmeted riders. The point here is to ignore the “body of research” and just pick the one study that supports your cause.

    3. Only provide references for the statistics you use when you are absolutely, positively, 110 percent sure that if someone fact checks your reference they will find what you say to be true and that other research will not contradict it. For example, say, “According to the Hurt Study, more than 50 percent of the time the cause of a crash is another vehicle violating the motorcycle right of way.” This is a true statement, and your goal is to blame the motorist for the crash. The actual percentage reported is 50.9 percent, but don’t be precise and then people will assume a much higher percentage. Better yet, say, “According to the Hurt study, in multiple vehicle crashes, another vehicle violated the motorcycle right of way almost 65 percent of the time.” People will not notice that you qualified or limited your statement to multiple vehicle crashes, and they will just remember that other drivers are the big problem, which is of course your goal with statements like this.

    4. Be very careful about providing references. Providing a reference gives your opposition the ability to fact check what you have said and to find other references that disprove your claim. The easiest way to avoid this is by not providing a source. When you say, “Most crashes are caused by car drivers,” most people will intuitively believe you. It is something they have likely heard before, and they have no idea that it isn’t necessarily true. So just make the statement. Saying “according to,” as described in No. 3, is risky. People can’t check your statements if you don’t cite a source.

    5. Ignore the fact that crashes are going to happen in spite of all efforts to prevent them. Admitting that it is simply impossible to prevent all crashes means that efforts to reduce death, injury, or the severity of injury in the event of a crash are important to overall safety efforts. So then you’d also have to admit that riding gear is important, particularly helmets. The best way to avoid this logical trap is to ignore the data and continue to blame other drivers by saying, “If we could only get car drivers to act responsibly, we could save bikers’ lives.”

    6. Make up statistics. For example, say, “I’m sure that if we could just get car drivers to respect our rights, we could reduce biker fatalities by as much as 75 percent.” Another example is “The experienced riders I know say that in 67.5 percent of the crashes their friends wearing helmets were in, the helmet caused more injury than it prevented.” These statements sound impressive because of the percentages. You know they’re just made-up numbers with no real meaning, but politicians do this all the time and it works for them, so it will work for us too.

    7. When you do make up statistics, use odd numbers, as in the second example given in No. 6. Odd numbers sound so much more legitimate. For instance, say 73.7 percent instead of rounding up to 75 percent.

    8. Make true statements that have no real meaning and that sound like they counter arguments made by the safety-crats. People hearing the true statement will just nod their heads in agreement with you and will assume all the other things you say are also true. A good example is to say, “Helmets don’t prevent crashes.” Obviously, this statement is true. So what if it doesn’t have anything to do with helmet effectiveness or the value of helmet laws? When people hear you say something true, they will assume you are a truthful person and are not out to mislead them.

    9. Make common sense statements that lead the uninformed public to false conclusions about helmets (this tactic is similar to but slightly different from No. 8). For example, say, “It’s important for bikers to be able to have a wide field of vision; therefore, we don’t want anything to interfere with our ability to see.” Better yet is to end the statement with “our ability to detect traffic hazards,” as this sounds much more official. These are certainly true statements that also apply to car and truck drivers, boaters and bicyclists. People will readily accept and concur with your simple statement, and your statement will lead the uninformed to jump to the false conclusion that helmets interfere with vision. But you never said that.

    10. Combine a couple tactics together to make a more powerful impact. Combining tactic No. 8 with No. 5 works wonders. For example, you could say, “It is important for bikers to be able to have a wide field of vision because we don’t want anything to interfere with our ability to detect traffic hazards. A recent survey reported that 97.8% of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education think helmets interfere with their vision.” Notice how the second part of this statement sounds like a real study. Don’t just say something like “The buddies I hang out with at Joe’s B & G think helmets suck.” Maybe it goes without saying, but when you make something up, make it sound like you didn’t just make it up.

    11. Talk a lot about freedom and the American way. These have always been important values in our country and might be more so now than at any time since the Revolutionary War. Hit this hard. Divert attention away from motorcyclist safety to these “hot button” topics. It is even OK to say you have nothing against helmets, that some bikers do wear them, but the real issue is that as Americans we should not be forced by a law to do something that only impacts the individual. Ignore the fact that all citizens pay the costs associated with non-helmeted riders who crash. Refer often to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Talk about America being built on individual freedom and the right to make individual choices.

    12. Accuse the opposition of using these same dirty tactics—of using false, outdated, misleading, and made-up statistics. You could say something like “There is a whole body of literature on how to use statistics to mislead (this is true; just do a Web search). One piece identifies 12 different tactics and calls them the Dirty Dozen (this is also true; this is it). At some time or another it seems to us that the safety-crats have used 100 percent of the identified ways of using statistics to mislead.” Our estimate is that we have used these tactics less than 81.1 percent of the time, but with your help, we can do better.

  84. James

    If they just got rid of the worthless NHTSA then most of our problems would be solved.

    said Jackie Gillan, president of the Washington-based nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “They are so emboldened now, not only do they try to repeal laws and stop them from being enacted, they try to stop the hands of law enforcement, saying you cannot use grant money to have motorcycle checkpoints. Can you imagine if they said the same thing about sobriety checkpoints?”

    So you can have motorcycle checkpoints, but airport’s can only do random searches of to include small children and grandparents? How about some car checkpoints too, so many driving around with bald tires/no seatbelt/bad brakes/blind/etc? We all know that car drivers are much more dangerous and cost the economy much more in vehicle losses as a percentage then motorcycles even if there death rates are declining…what are the accident rates?

  85. Mr Phil

    It’s simple, you want to wear a helmet, wear one, if you don’t want to it should be YOUR choice. And if you don’t ride at all, STFU !!!

  86. Mannie

    It’s simple. If you want helmets, wear one. If not, don’t. It’s called Liberty. We once respected it in this country.

  87. David

    Enough said !

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed. In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities.

  88. Gregg

    I refuse to agree with any of the complete brain-deads who will try to tell me how a helmet is somehow dangerous to a rider, the old “it snapped his neck” or “the strap choked him to death” or any of the other very stupid justifications one my try to come up with regarding helmet dangers. Are those events remotely possible? Yes, but it’s about a thousand times more likely that a helmet will protect your head than kill you. Stop arguing those points. You look like idiots.
    That said, helmet laws should absolutely be overturned in all states. I choose to wear a helmet, and that’s my personal decision. I choose to wear a seat belt too. It’s none of the government’s business and should not ever be. Same with smoking, drugs, or any other unhealthy choices. I have never understood why anyone not close to me cares how long I care to live or how healthy I choose to be.
    We don’t need or want the government protecting us from ourselves.

    -Gregg

  89. DJ

    for all you people bashing bikers and helmets….how many of u talk on the cell phone while driving…..text while driving, i do wear a helmet, but these motorcycle only checkpoints are discriminatory, why don’t the lawmakers put a bill that makes texting while driving or talking non handsfree while driving the same as DUI……then lets see if it still goes on at the pace it’s goin, and this article, is just another example of the liberal bias in the media…..they all want a nanny state, and this is not what our forefathers wanted. For all you people who said, oh if they are not wearing a helmet and get into a wreck and die to leave them on the side of the road….you know what u can do to yourselves. How about we leave you on the side of the road when u wrap your car around a pole after u send a text that says LOL…..think about it, i just did a ride for 2 people this weekend…..killed 3 years ago…..by a person….texing and driving, why doesn’t mr schmit write about that ?

  90. Cory

    One other point they are leaving out is how many deaths were from being struck by another car or were just the motorcycle accidents alone. Also in one study it showed wearing a helmet was only 37% effective in single motorcycle wrecks. This was the governments own study. Also not wearing a helmet was not in the top 5 causes of death they were excessive speed, alcohol/drug use, inexperienced rider, poor weather and poor roads. When you add in being hit by another vehicle the percent is even less for survival. I do not normally use a helmet by choice and have been riding since i was 5 i am now 49 and have gone down and been hit by another car while stopped at a red light I know the risks involved but I have been hurt far worse in car wrecks.

  91. Little Sister

    I once had a biology professor that brought in a colleague to discuss his thesis with us. The topic was “Animals do not feel, they only respond”…this article’s author reminds me of that thesis author. The moral of the story from that day was, if you have a point you want to make, you can easily make a presentation on any topic and prove it. So, I thoroughly enjoy getting into the helmet/no helmet debates. I was brought up around motorcycles, motorized bikes, mopeds, dirt bikes, trikes, quads, you name it…we rode them. We rode them during the great gas crisis in the ’70’s as children, and continued into adulthood. When we started, we couldn’t afford helmets. Since starting without one, it is much harder for me to put one on – decades later. I find it distracting, makes my neck and shoulders sore, the neck or chin strap usually bruises my neck after a 500 mile day, the several different helmets I use all change my ability to hear see and move, and on a hot day – I usually can go about 80 miles in a clip and need to hydrate and mop up the salty sweat from my face and eyes. Obviously, I do wear one from time to time. The article above offers a very poorly biased presentation of numbers. Accident reporting involving motorcyclists has been proven flawed in many areas. There have been problems with ATV, jet skis, and yes even lawn mowers being reported as motorcycles because of a lack of education or clarity in the process. As for Mr. Dabbs…wow, that is a sad statement! Mr. Schmidt, you made your presentation in that manner for some strange reason, just as the thesis writer had in a lecture I once heard about lacking feeling and only responding…

  92. George

    I’m sorry, but this ‘article’ is at best very thinly veiled editorializing, and at worst, boilerplate alarmism fed to the authors by those who stand to GAIN by casting bikers in a bad light.

    To contrast, the most effective measures against motorcyclist injury are RIDER training and DRIVER awareness education. Riders who haven’t had the benefit of training are much more likely to ride outside their limits or not practice (or even know) the maneuvers they will need to stay out of trouble. And drivers who aren’t paying attention to what they are doing while piloting 1-ton lethal weapons are also much more likely to get involved in a crash of ANY type.

    Helmets are a single safety measure, a reactive (not proactive) method of mitigating a crash. Moto-only checkpoints are an expense on the taxpayers, an impediment to all traffic in the area, and an annoyance to the riders. Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests that imposing checkpoints will decrease moto accidents.

    In future, I would ask that FairWarning check and verify what they publish, instead of printing something sent to them wholesale by the insurance industry. Thank you.

  93. Justine

    First….
    a.. In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    b.. In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact.
    And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.
    And I don’t know about Michigan, But ABATE has a different meaning in SC…So Maybe that wasn’t well researched either!!
    I am willing to fight for my right to freedom… Our government does not need to take care of us, and neither does any other groups… THAT is part of what is wrong in our country, everyone is willing to be lead by the nose like cattle…Well I am not a cow and if my being knowledgeable about how our government works bugs you, then GOOD!! I don’t know why Motorcyclists tick you off so much, but you should try to fix that and not worry about my safety, I do that for myself!! I am a voting, tax paying, working, citizen and my freedom is important to me!
    And on the point of Motorcyle only check points…What is the point of that? We get stopped along with cars in all the other checkpoints…How would motorcycle only check points do anything other than single out us as a group?? IF I am in a state that makes me wear a helmet, if it isn’t a DOT approved helmet, any police officer can stop me and give me a ticket, Why would it have to be done in a checkpoint?

  94. Jon Current

    “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

    – Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, attacking the logic of helmet law critics

    I hope and pray Michael Dabbs has the severe accident – where he is left bleeding from his skull on the side of the road slowly expiring and in great pain because some careless driver wanted to text to someone about being late to a high school party – that he has wished upon a number of human beings which I know and love.

    That he would say that about them, me and the billion plus motorcyclists around the world is tremendously thoughtless and inhuman. Mr. Dabbs has no right being the president of anything if he values human life so very little. His organization should be blacklisted and ignored until he is removed and shown the door for good. The integrity of this Brain Injury Association of Michigan is non-existent while a person who can say and believe such things is allowed to run its operations.

  95. Terry Panther

    It’s not the Helmets that will Save our lifes it’s the people driving the Cars will Watch out for us that will save us hang up Look Twice and Save A Life Motorcycles are everywhere See us or we die . You talk about the Helmet when it’s you in the cars that don’t watch out for us on Motorcycles. Then when you run us off the road and we die it’s o well he should have had on a helmet

  96. Mike

    Concentrate your laws on the Wall Street Gang.

  97. Cathy Jackson

    It’s obvious the author of this article omitted some of the stats. The number of motorcycle riders has more than doubled in the years between the 1st and last reports cited, while the number of rider fatalities has actually dropped from 0.055% to 0.053%. One thing I’ve noticed every time I’ve read an article about a rider being killed in an accident, it’s always mentioned if the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet, but rarely says if the rider WAS wearing a helmet. Look up the Black Nails Society and find out about Anita Z.affke, the woman who was an experienced rider, was wearing a helmet, was stopped at a red light and was rear ended at 55 plus miles per hour by a woman who was painting her fingernails while driving. Or the young man from Westville Illinois who was sitting at a red light on his bike and accidentally killed the engine when the light turned green and was run over from behind by a tractor trailer that had rolled up too close to him at the stop and ‘forgot’ he was there. I can tell you this, if you get hit from behind by a car going 55mph or are run over by a texting teenager or a tractor trailer, I don’t care how many helmets you’re wearing, you’re not going to survive it without the hand of God. That’s right…I just read a story that headlined “58% of high school seniors admit texting while driving”. 48% of juniors admit to the same thing. Those are kids who’ve had their licenses all of ’15 minutes’ but feel experienced enough to multitask while not looking at the road.
    I could go on and on with stories of bikers being run over by drunk drivers who pass a car then pull back into the right lane never seeing the motorcycle that already occupies that space, or of drivers who are too busy talking on their phones to stop and look at a red light before they turn right, thus pulling directly into an oncoming motorcycle. We go through the training, but cycle rider training only trains the bikers, not the “cage” drivers.
    I say spend the money that NHTSA has, to train vehicle drivers rather than putting all the responsibility on the bikers. We do what we can to avoid our skin meeting pavement, but we have only so much control and to the Drs and legislators who say to leave helmetless riders on the side of the road like roadkill…will they feel the same when the biker did nothing wrong except be in the path of a drunk or a texter? Will they feel that was when it’s their teenager who runs down an otherwise responsible biker? It’s something to think about.

  98. kirk

    Here’s the issue with the article> It doesn’t account for the 100% increase in ridership from 1997-2010. It doesn’t take into account the fact cell phone distractions among other distractions account for drivers simply not paying attention to us riders compared to 1997. It doesn’t give you a reflection of whose at fault- which is typically not the motorcyclist.
    I’ve been a motorcyclist for 30 yrs. I have operated a motorcycle insurance agency for 13yrs. I have sold and financed bikes for 5 yrs. And I am a helmet wearer. This website’s selective editing of NHTSA information is slanted and is leaving out vital information. If they would like a rebuttal they certainly can contact me for that. I do not disagree with the fact that helmets do save lives, but the message they convey through this article is not fully informational.

  99. David Baccus

    I’d like to respond to Fred’s question:
    I ride street bikes And I race dirt bikes. I’ve never fallen on the street, yet I’ve fallen more times than I can remember racing. I carry liability insurance and medical insurance, as well as life insurance.
    The choice you made in buying a car was yours, not mine. You had other choices, such as a bus or a dump truck or a Mini Cooper. My point is you had a choice in choosing your vehicle, and you made it. State or federal law only tells you to wear your seatbelt, not a helmet, even though there are more head injuries due to car accidents than motorcycle accidents. I actually wear a helmet on one of my street bikes but not on the other. Figure that. Point being, it’s My choice.
    Another small point. My carbon footprint compared with yours is miniscule. You are polluting more in your car than I am on my motorcycle by 10x.
    If we are going to look at the costs associated with motorcycle accidents, then lets look at skin cancer, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease first.

  100. plumbertom

    Lies and misrepresentations of the facts does no one any good.
    You should take a strong look at your anti-motorcycling bias and take measures to correct it.

  101. John Thomas

    I wear a helmet by choice. As far as the numbers show motorcycle deaths are down and they would be down even more if there were fewer distracted drivers. We don’t need to spend money on motorcycle only check points. We need to spend it on enforcing drivers that are texting, reading a book on their Kindle fire and one I have personally seen doing taxes.

  102. Thomas Finn, III

    As a motorcyclist, I take issue to the recent article attributing Fairwarning.org promoting mandatory helmet laws and motorcycle-only checkpoints. Please post my response to this biased article that describes motorcyclists with a derogatory term.

    Fairwarning.org’s statement that it “strives to provide [this] coverage as a non-partisan, non-ideological public service” does not ring true in this story, which cherry picks fatality statistics and discredits rider education.

    The federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documented the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: “The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, “Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing.” The report states: “Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”

    Why were these facts left out of this article to provide objective balance?

    I could go on ,but this yellow journalism is typically pathetic.

  103. Hey Fred

    Fred , you said, “It has anti lock brakes and skid sensing technology. None of these protections are available to motorcyclists, nor can there be!”

    There are plenty of motorcycles (usually not the POS Harley Bikes, though) that have ABS and traction control. If were going to go all in with mandatory helmet laws, why aren’t we requiring all new motorcycles have ABS and traction control. Honda’s Goldwing is available with an airbag, as well as at least 3 motorcycle jackets. What about headlight modulators?

    Let’s not just pick the low hanging fruit of mandatory helmet laws, if were all about legislating motorcycle safety all of these things, including protective riding gear should be the law as well.

  104. Janet Harris

    Funny thing about the numbers of registered motorcycles and the number of deaths, all those mo-ped/ scooter crashes and deaths are figured in as a motorcycle death crash. here is the catch, motorcycles ARE registered, insured and counted, we know how many are on the road. The mo-ped/ scooters are NOT registered, insured nor counted except if there is an accident/ death. without knowing how many of them are on the road the percentage of motorcyles and the deaths can not be correctly figured.
    on a 2nd note: I normally do not where a helmet, I wore one so I could run the lap around the Indy 500 track as part of the Miracle Ride for Riley Hospital. I found it harder to ride as the wind tried to lift the helmet and by the end of the day my neck and shoulders were throbbing. the next day I could hardly raise my head or turn my neck. since I ride daily I have no other choice but to believe this was caused from the helmet.
    and the 3rd note: I have been thru the ABATE rider training class and can truely state the training I got there has many times saved me from being in an accident. Nothing will make me believe a “safer” crash (helmet) is better than no crash at all. If you do not ride stop trying to tell us the riders what is in our best interest. I have a Mom and I am an adult and a Grandmother as well….therefore I do not need the government to be my “mother”

  105. Taz Local 28 FORR Missouri

    What this article fails to lay out is the amount of deaths from states with helmet laws compared to states with. Missouri has a higher motorcycle fatality number compared to Arkansas which has no law.
    Also, lets talk about the helmet. I personnaly have buried 2 close friends that dies because the strap on their helmet cut off their esophogus and they chocked to death. When is the last time the helmet has been tested… the 60s. Bikes today are faster, traffic is heavier, and yet we are still being forced to wear 50 year old technology. If the NHTSA want to force the issue that we have to wear a helmet, then force the manufactures creat a helmet that will not cause damage to the rider. If this can not be done, then the helmet should not be forced down our throut.
    And while we are discussing head injuries due to accidents, just as many cage drivers recieve heand and neck injuries as motorcycle riders, yet no one is advocating mandatory helmets or neck support for drivers.
    As far as the checkpoints, I have no issue, think they work to remove people off the road that have no insurance, drunk drivers and more…so why do we need one just made for motorcycles? Would we be exempt from all other check points? NO. If they want to fund a nation wide any vehicle checkpoints, so be it, but to say they need to do this only to motorcycles is the same as all people that have middle eastern look to them need to be strip searched in an airport.

  106. taboky

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.

  107. Ron

    This comment is to Charles, who “is a motorcycle rider”. I also have been riding for many years (55 or so) and have been down a few times, lots of road rash etc. I have at times worn a helmet, but usually choose not to. I will accept one point as fact, helmets do SOMETIMES save a life, but do alittle research on your own, read a few reports on what caused a motorcyclists death. In many many cases it is attibuted to ” massive internal injuries”, I can tell these words are directly from a number of coroner’s reports. the decission rendered by a professional in these cases was that ” a helmet would have made no difference” We do not need a nanny state, let those who ride decide. I respect your decision to wear a helmet, please respect mine to choose as I please.

  108. Marsha

    Please get the facts at the following link. Copy and paste into your browser.

    http://www.mrf.org/pdf/MRF_FactOrFiction2011.pdf

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.

    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.

  109. Hammer

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a couple hundred thousand times, it doesn’t matter how many wheels you are driving on, you have to know your vehicle and how it works and….. keep driving the the main thing when you operate that vehicle! We or any type reporting agency can put out as many statistical figures and studies regarding these issues until we are blue in the face but, safety as a driver of any vehicle is still! our own responsibility. Pay attention, think what your doing, BE a smarter vehicle operator and a lot of motor vehicle tragedies will not be heard about again. As for Zach commenting about semis not being allowed to operate on the same road as other vehicles, that’s just ridicules, Zach, they are paid professionals, if they screw up while driving, they could possibly lose their right to earn a living and no kind of insurance can fix that.

  110. shi

    Just goes to show you how may clueless people there are out there driving today, and how any idiot can write a one sided article.

  111. Brandon

    If the concern is so focused on motorcycle safety why are so many of these helmet laws being married with mandatory insurance? Who do you really think has their hand in the legislation? Think people. Its one of the few things we are allowed to do anymore.

  112. tony C.

    I would like to have a investigative reporter do a story on motor cycle helmets.
    Most are hard to see out of,hot hot hot to ride with and lack proper ventelation
    for comfort.

  113. Carl Hungness

    Hello:
    After covering over 250,000 miles both with and without a helmet, I’d rather ride bare naked than have to put up with the US drivers who talk and text while driving. One out of ten fatal car crashed involve distracted driving. Throw in the danger caused by tinted windows and the motorcycle rider has little chance even if he is wearing a suit of armor. Then consider a significant portion of motorcycle fatalities are caused by drunk bike riders and the helmet (harder than hell to see out of in the first place) laws don’t seem to mean much.

  114. Charles

    I just want to say “Thanks You” for promoting some true information.
    I am a long time bike rider, have owned a motorcycle since 1951 and have ridden many 100K miles .
    I am a very strong believer in having a helmet law. I know they not only save lives, they reduce injuries even when the rider lives.
    In these 60 odd years that I have ridden, I have only had 4 or 5 street accidents that required any medical treatment at all, and only 1 injury that was worse than minor road rash, but when you can go on to work after an accident with no injures what so every ; Yet look at the holes in your gloves, the tear in your jacket and the deep scratches in your helmet. You understand why we wear safety gear.
    Even though I know it would even be more difficult to get passed I believe more protective clothing such as jackets, pants, boots & gloves should also be required as part of the price for riding.
    I know a lot of people don’t like being told what to do , but proper gear can make riding much more pleasurable.
    I am also a strong believer in education, not just a one time course, but a required refresher class every few years.
    Riding a motorcycle safely, while having a good time is a state of mind, more than anything and continuing education as well good equipment helps .
    Yes I don’t want other people telling me what to do, but if I want to enjoy my freedom of riding, I need to uphold my responsibility to not be a drag on the health care industry and cause other peoples insurance rates to be higher.
    Freedom comes with a very high price.
    I am also an MSF instructor and the article mentions that some people are against education because it promotes self confidence, that might cause a person to take chance that they might not otherwise take. That is true but time riding and the extremely good motorcycles that we have todaydo the same thing, except with bad habits.
    Today’s motorcycles have such a high power to weight ratio and handle so well, riders feel they can do anything, long before they know how, or long before they have gained the wisdom of when.
    I would also like to see laws that limited the type of motorcycle people could ride for at least the first few years of riding, and require continuing education to maintain your license to ride.
    Thanks Again

  115. Ron

    One of the major things being left out of this article, in how many of those fatalities from motorcycle accidents were the person/persons wearing a helmet? I personally can think of at least 10 deaths (here in Illinois) in the last 2 years in which case all of those fatalities were wearing helmets. Add that statistic to the story to give it more context.

  116. curt erickson

    I don’t so much care about the helmet laws. But checkpoints for motorcyclists but not for cars is unAmerican. In fact, pulling over anyone without probable cause for random checks, however well-intentioned, violates traditional American views on freedom from harassment.

  117. Tim Horetski

    As you can see by previous comments someone needs to get their facts correct before writing such articles. Please stop listening to people that do not ride. They don’t have a clue as to what is really going on out there.

  118. Russ Peterson

    Quote by Jeff :
    in 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.
    This is the whole point
    Let the rider decide.
    Two motorcycle accidents last week, Both were wearing helmets, both were fatalities, one case, Interstate, some fool decided to transport a mattress and didn’t secure it, loosing it on the interstate. Along comes a motorcyclist and you can guess what happened then, the other was a inattentive driver making a left hand turn in front of a motorcyclist.
    You can’t fix stupid,,,,,, People. A helmet only protects you in some cases and the statics do not warrant a mandating law stating it will be worn. It’s all government bureaucracy funded by people that think they feel the need to baby-sit every man, woman and child.
    Until big brother takes that right from me, I’ll decide period. If you think or have this crazy idea in your heads it’s costing you money then you have totally lost sight of the big picture. Wake up, stop drinking the koolaid or what ever. Your rights are disappearing with every nod you give’m the go-ahead.

  119. Dan

    Basically, my position is one of philosophical consistency. If we have states that mandate seatbelts for drivers and passengers, (the primary safety device for cars & trucks) then we should likewise mandate helmets for motorcyclists, as that is the primary safety device for motorcycles.

    The primary motivation behind it all from a societal perspective comes down to money. Motorists, whether car, truck or motorcycle, are sometimes uninsured or under-insured and the state ends up footing the bill in the event of a bad crash, particularly if brain damage is involved. This mandate however, conflicts with personal freedoms to not wear a helmet or seat belt. If we as a society decide that it is in our interest to mandate seat belt use then for consistency, we should also mandate helmet use rather than granting one set of travelers a special exemption. However, if society decides that individual liberty is worth footing the bill for the extra costs for some guy who ends up on life support, I have no philosophical problem, provided that car, truck and motorcycles are treated the same.

  120. Russ Peterson

    Back in response to Fred: Fred I never have said that I didn’t own a helmet or the fact if I wore it, well I do own a helmet and I do wear it. My point is that all these statistics they keep throwing out are a misconception. I’ve seen and worked with more people that own horses that have been injured on horses, tell me does that mean that if you get on a horse that by law your’e going to wear a helmet? Do you think you pay for their bills if they don’t have insurance, yes you will, because in some way rates go up to cover that cost somewhere in the system. So all in all your beating a dead horse here, no pun intended. You won’t be the one deciding or voting on this law anyhow. It’s just a fact they make laws to protect us, but some are freedom robbing rights activism. You can give up all your rights if you want to, not a problem with me. Like I said earlier in one of my posts if your in a big hurry I’ll pay for you one way ticket to North Korea, they probably even wear Helmets on their scooters, and you won’t have to pay a dime if they crash, perfect!! See I knew we could come to a agreement. :)

  121. Cletis

    @Mark:

    “My point is that the insurance companies want to limit the car driver’s potential liability when they screw up.”

    Completely agree, and to this end, the insurance agencies lower their payout potential by lobbying for helmet laws to dissuade motorcycle riding.

  122. Jeff

    This ongoing argument with the nanny types and whoever they are fronting for (I grant there may be misguided folks out there actually looking out for what they perceive as “the best interests” of their fellow human beings, but I am sure they are in the minority) is just SO tiring. As several others have already posted, motorcycle registrations more than doubled between 1997 and 2010 and MC fatalities have DECREASED.

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.

    There are many, many more factors involved in this result other than helmet use, whether mandatory or voluntary and trying to simplify it to helmet use is just plain naive and offensive. Rider education is the number 1 best way to reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities by training each and every rider how to avoid getting into an accident inf the first place. Road user education is the number 2 best way to reduce accidents and fatalities of ALL road users by teaching awareness and responsible vehicle operation. In my state, Massachusetts, our Governor has seen fit to take ALL monies collected from motorcyclists that were intended, BY Mass General Law (http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/Section34) for the motorcycle safety fund. If the do-gooders really and truly want to help motorcyclists they will get behind education.

  123. Peter E Shufelt

    You are only telling half the truth, Yes death are up, why because there are all most twice the motorcycles out there now. Let add another factor people with cell phones, texting.
    You know it easy to flash a headline to get some one to read your story, it is another to print all the fact, and were you get them from.
    Peter E Shufelt, ABATE President Columbia County Chapter New York.
    PS bikes don’t kill bikers cars, and people not paying attention.

  124. Ben K

    Pull over all the cars too and you’ve got a deal.

  125. andres "Pantera" vazquez

    In response to Fred; the similarities that you imply between auto racing and motorcycling do not apply. Physics do. Race car drivers’ helmets are tethered, as are the drivers to the seats. providing a distinctly different reaction/effect than that suffered by a motorcyclist.

  126. Bruce

    Fred, as the conclusion of more then one crash expert in the Dale Earnhardt crash determined he was killed because the unrestrained helmet snapped his neck. From NASCAR’s site new equipment is: “The HANS device (also known as a head restraint) (Head and Neck Support device) is a safety item compulsory in many car racing sports. It reduces the likelihood of head and/or neck injuries, such as a basilar skull fracture, in the event of a crash. ” Not possible on a bike. Once again you trade one injury for another. I’d just like to pick my injury. To my low speed comment you can check with any manufacturer and will be told that helmets are rated to protect up to 18 miles per hour. Also you are required to replace them if they are dropped from more then 10 feet. Doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability to protect my brain which most studies have found is damaged by bouncing off the inside of my skull, not the first thing my head hits. I’m sure you are a wonderful, well intentioned guy but you can’t legislate every risk out of life. One last comparrison and I’m done. If it’s alright to have motorcycle only checkpoints and examine my helmet then I guess it will be OK when they start stopping only fat people and doing a test to determine their cholesterol level since heart disease costs a lot more then motorcycle accidents. Sounds crazy but a few years ago I thought the same thing about someone telling me how to dress.

  127. Jim Hudson

    This article is nothing more than a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
    For what purpose?

  128. BOB PISANESCHI

    How much did the insurance companys pay you guys to write this crap. Youre a real fountain of misinformation. Maybe you guys ought to move to north korea so the dictator can tell you what type and what amount of tree bark you can eat to stay alive and be safe. You people make me puke! You dont deserve to live in this country!

  129. Tom Lunsford

    The process of legislating personal choice the government has invaded the fundamental rights of the persons free choice. The statistics show that motorcycles have, because of economics, raised in numbers but fatilities have decreased. I do wear a helmet by choice but I will defend that right and even though you disagree, this is America and we DO have a Choice. That should never change.

  130. Fred

    “I put on a helmet and may prevent some head injuries at low speeds. Wonderful, and if I could pick my accident I’m good.”

    Bruce, I really want to understand what you mean by “some head injuries at low speeds”

    If that is true, why (as I asked previously) do race car drivers and service flying personnel all wear helmets?

    Whatever else may be said about racing and flying, they cannot be considered “low speed activities.” If what you say is true, that helmets increase injuries at speed, logic would dictate that drivers and fliers should not wear helmets!

    Please explain.

  131. Steve R

    Here is the real crux of the matter. If it is ok for the state to say it is too dangerous for me to ride without a helmet, it is only one step away from the state saying it is too dangerous for me to ride a motorcycle at all. And for all you out there who don’t ride and want to tell me it is too risky look in the mirror. What kinds of risk do you take? Bad diet? Don’t exercise? Ride a horse? Rock climbing? SCUBA? Smoke? Where does it end?

  132. Steve R

    William Billings, There is no hypocrisy at all. I believe you have the right to smoke but if you come to my house, I would forbid it. Same thing. It is one thing to respect your right to do something risky it is something else for me to take on your risk. BTW, I wouldn’t let you ride my bike without a helmet. But feel free to ride your own without one.

  133. Zach

    To: RIGGER (and all the people advocating for the freedom not to wear helmets on your super-fast, dangerous bicycles)–

    It’s not your freedom that’s at risk here. It’s your life. I know you all think you’re the best driver in the world who can get out of any situation presented to you, and you may be great.

    But when you put unnecessary strain on our system to the tune of 1.5 billion dollars a year, calling ambulances and blocking off roads, ruining your families, sitting in hospitals for months and months in traction, or worse, dying and making others clean up the mess that was you, then it becomes everyone else’s business, because you can’t protect yourself.

    In all honesty, super-fast bicycles should be banned from our roads anyway. Exposing yourself to the elements at 60mph is dumb. It’s fun, and that’s why you do it. So, if you’re going to drive the least safe vehicle in a world of very unsafe vehicles, do us all a favor and WEAR A HELMET.

    Yes! We need better FOOD education in our schools too! That’s another huge problem we have in our society.

    One other thing: Semi trucks should be banned on our roads, or given their own dedicated, isolated lanes/routes to secure the safety of passenger vehicles. That will help immensely as well.

  134. barry may

    A few years back, I was looking over the Illinois accident statistics (before they required a fee for info), and it had a category of single vehicle accident deaths. More pedestrians died than motorcyclists in that report. The focus needs to be accident avoidance, not injury prevention. You’ll save more money and lives that way.

  135. Fred

    “Response to Fred”

    Well Russ, in your earlier posts, you were all about ringing the bells of freedom and patriotism; for you it was just a matter of “Hey, I got my rights and some insurance too!

    Now it seems I have made you think a little, at least to the point that you can now see, and admit, that it’s about more than just you and your motorcycle roaring down the road.

    You seem now to understand that there really is an interplay between you and other people who are involved in the consequences of your choices. As you put it: “I’m sure at one point in life my income will in some way pay for you to have a life”. You understand now, that “No man is an island.”

    That is good, so now, the only difference remaining between us is that I, and others like me, have done all we can to be responsible for protecting our passengers, and ourselves – before we get in trouble.

    Maybe now you might go the extra step and get a helmet – if you get my drift!

  136. William Billings

    I find it interesting that EVERY motorcycle training school/program requires its students, and instructors to wear a helmet, and doesn’t see the hyprocrisy in claiming “It’s your choice as an American citizen to wear one, or not.” I believe most schools and programs also require gloves, long sleeve shirts or jackets, long pants, and over-the-ankle shoes or boots. I can only believe that it’s because (a) they want to get paid once the course is completed, and (b) want to minimize their exposure to liability for injury. Hmmm, item (b) sounds a lot like what they want the rest of society to ignore. Now THAT’s a real lesson in the exercise of personal freedom!

  137. Bruce

    Fred, first you have not taken the maximum effort to protect your passengers. If there are a 100 times more head injuries in four wheeled vehicles then it is me paying much more in insurance rates because of your negligent refusal to wear a helmet. You are right I do believe in personal responsibility but personal freedoms as important as they are not the issue here. My education and vocation is in risk analysis. The problem with reasoning as presented by the author is it looks at one action with no regard for the affect of that action. I put on a helmet and may prevent some head injuries at low speeds. Wonderful, and if I could pick my accident I’m good. But I can’t look just at the medical savings from those accidents. I have to look at any increase in other injuries that are caused by wearing a helmet. Only until you look at the net effect can you make an educated analysis. Common sense should tell you that if you did as I suggest and wear a helmet in your car neck injuries would skyrocket. No different on a bike. Go to http://www.flhsmv.gov and tell me if it’s not true why have more people died and been injured wearing a helmet then not every year since they went to choice. Not just once but every year both categories.

  138. Russ Peterson

    Response to Fred, are you a smoker Fred? Are you a drinker Fred? Are you a auto driver Fred? What tell me have you signed in your lifetime that limits me from having to pay for your bills, you loose your job, am I going to pay for your welfare check? Dam right I am, I take full resposibility for getting behind the wheel, be it behind the wheel, behind the handle bars or whatever motorized vehicle. I don’t need to sign anything. I’m sure at one point in life my income will in some way pay for you to have a life, so get used to it. I didn’t plan on you not having a job, or loosing your home or your kid running over a pedestrian jaywalking, it’s still his fault not matter what, you get my drift?

  139. Fred

    “@ Fred To my earlier point I’ll be happy to sign one the day you and your passengers sign one.”

    I too have owned motorcycles, and the day I first rode out on my old Harley war bike, that I got from war surplus for $350.00, I met a man who said: “It is not a question of IF you will have an accident, it is WHEN, you will have it; that’s the truth about riding a motorcycle.”

    We became friends, and he was there when I went over the high side on a turn that had been dry when we headed out, but was wet when we returned. I thanked him for insisting that I wear a helmet, because I landed hard (on a rock) right on the back of my head.

    But Bruce, lets compare apples and apples here! I have made the maximum effort and expense to provide safe transportation for me and my passengers. I drive a vehicle that has four wheels on the ground, (inheritably more stable than any two wheeled vehicle) it has a frame and a metal shell to protect passengers from rollover and lateral impact. It has airbags in the front and rear seats, it has seat belts to protect against ejection and headrests to prevent whiplash. It has anti lock brakes and skid sensing technology. None of these protections are available to motorcyclists, nor can there be!

    Against all of that you say: “I’ll be happy to sign one the day you and your passengers sign one.” Do you imply, or actually believe that there is some sort of equivalence, between a motorcycle and a modern automobile, such that I should do more than you, and others commenting here, who are unwilling to employ even the most minimal protection available (a helmet) to you and your passengers believing that “Training” will make up the difference.

    None of you here, who are against wearing helmets, are willing to address my question. You don’t want to change, so you employ defense mechanisms of talk about freedom, and patriotism, the flag; you imply that accidents are more the fault of inattentive drivers. Some of you say that helmets don’t prevent injuries (So why do all race drivers and service pilots wear them?) You think that $20,000 in extra insurance will be adequate to cover your injuries. $20,000 in extra insurance will (maybe) cover two nights in the ICU.
    If you become quadriplegic, do you actually think 20K will cover it all.

    I don’t care at all if motorcyclists want to risk their lives, that is their right. But “Freedom” is never free!! Right? The question I have been asking here is: Who pays for your freedom, you, or others who pay higher taxes and insurance premiums.

  140. Anony mous

    From the Hurt report:

    6. In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
    ——————————————————————————–
    7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.
    ——————————————————————————–
    9. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.

    So, other vehicles are the biggest threat to motorcyclists.

    However, as mentioned in the article, …” it is far from clear that training does anything to reduce crashes or deaths. A 2007 Indiana study, for instance, found that riders who completed a basic training course were 44 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than untrained riders. ” According to Hurt, “22. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents. ”

    Hopefully the new crash causation study will help to clear up some of the conflicting information currently in evidence.

    And BTW I have been riding for 20 years with easily over 100,000 miles on two wheels.

  141. Steve R

    There are approximately 4,500 motorcycle fatalities per year and approximately 225,000 heart attack fatalities per year. For every motorcycle fatality there are 50 heart attack fatalities. Many of these heart attack fatalities are preventable with diet and exercise. So since the author really wants to stop the “carnage” shouldn’t you be promoting eating laws? Forget Boomberg’s >16oz soda ban how about complete soda ban? Ban restaurants from serving desert or read meat portions more than 3 oz. Shouldn’t we have a National Exercise Administration that forces everyone to get 3 hours of aerobic exercise per week and ration how much of each type of food we eat? How about obesity check points? The new NEA could check if you are overweight or blood pressure too high give you a ticket and have your sugar and fat rations reduced. Anybody see a problem with this line of reasoning? I mean if you really want to stop the carnage…

  142. Kevin Tuthill

    Simply put, are we U.S. citizens? Do we have the right to choose what we are wearing in any activity that we decide to participate in? Do we have many rights left at all in this horable trash talking country we live in? Ive been in the motorcycle business for 30 years. Ive lost alot of friends on bikes, ive lost alot of friends in vehichles of all kinds. Why are all the fun hatters bashing motorcyclists? It is our right to wear and do whatever it is we feel like…or it used to be. What is this country comeing to when everyone has a different opinion on everything other people do with there lives. To all the people with these incomplete surveys and recommendations, go buy a motorcycle, put a helmet on,or dont, and see if you enjoy what riding a motorcycle is all about. I f you dont like it, dont do it. If you do like it, ride on and shut your mouths. If people die, use the good organs for people who need them. I will continue to ride my motorcycles without a helmet, and i might even ride it naked and have sex on them at the same time. What do you care, its my life not yours……….

  143. James Hudson

    To the authors of this article: Statistics can sometimes be used to promote political agendas. For instance, a recent study purports to show that those who complete motorcycle training are more likely to be involved in an accident than those without training?? Is there anyone who would argue against motorcycle safety training?

    I would like to see a comparison:

    % Increase in the number of motorcycle miles ridden by state 1997 – 2011.
    Total % increase in motorcycle fatalities 1997 – 2011 for the 19 states with mandatory helmet laws.
    Total % increase in motorcycle fatalities 1997 – 2011 for the remaining 31 states.

    These numbers might tell part of the story – why can’t they be found?

  144. Jason Burzynski

    I echo Brad’s post. Have insurance companies offer an incentive or discount to those riders who committ to wearing a helmet but don’t make it law. We have enough of those already from the ever evolving nanny state we live in!

  145. Steve L-J

    Having more than doubled the number of registered motorcycles from 1997, some 3,800,00 0 plus to 2010’s 8,350,000 plus, one would expect there to be a comparable rise in fatalities, no?
    In FACT, there were 2,116 fatalities in 1997 or .0.55% of the motorcycling population and 2010? 4,502 fatalities or 0.053% of the motorcycling population in 2010. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that motorcyclists are better trained and safer that in 1997. One more fact more than a third of motorcycle fatalities are caused by drivers turning left across the path of a motorcycle, next in line is being rear ended by another vehicle.
    Logical conclusion? Other vehicle drivers are a major part of the problem.

  146. Mark

    @Cletis, you’re absolutely right. My point is that the insurance companies want to limit the car driver’s potential liability when they screw up.

  147. Cletis

    @Mark:

    You replied to Neil, stating that he had conceded that “the only point in helmet laws is to protect YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY from YOUR DANGEROUS DRIVING.”

    Your conclusion is the exact opposite of the conclusion that is supported by the facts. If you refer to my earlier comment, you will see that 75% of collisions between a motorcycle and another vehicle are found to be the fault of the car/truck/bus driver. So to paraphrase and correct you, one could say that the primary function of helmet laws is to protect the insurers of vehicles *other than* motorcycles from *those* drivers’ dangerous driving habits.

  148. jim jones

    Nice propaganda, would be nice if news articles were facts, not just the info reporters were told to write. Sadly reporters have to write what the news/propaganda officers tell them to write, if not, they will get no more info, thus leaving them unemployed.

  149. Let Those Who Ride Decide

    FACT: A Minnesota motorcyclist survived a crash only to be struck by a car while standing on the road attempting to flag down a motorist for assistance. This was subsequently counted as a motorcycle fatality.
    FACT: A Pennsylvania taxi driver, with multiple suspensions, was responsible for about two percent of the state’s total motorcycle fatalities when he caused a crash with three motorcycles and killed five helmeted riders in a single incident.
    FACT: The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated over 120,000 airplane incidents, over 60,000 surface transportation incidents, and just 6 individual motorcycle incidents in their entire 44 year history — Apparently enough investigation to warrant adding mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists on their “top ten most wanted list”.
    FACT: According to preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, states that have a mandatory adult helmet law had six fewer fatalities in 2010 than in 2009, while free choice states saw a reduction of 74. The state with the single largest decline in fatalities (Texas -60) is a choice state and a state which requires helmets on all riders tied for the greatest increase (New York +24).
    FACT: FARS continues to include “mopeds” in motorcycle crash statistics despite the fact that most states do not require registration of these vehicles. This practice skews the most respected method of measuring the effectiveness of motorcycle safety programs, which is the ratio of accidents, injuries and fatalities per 10,000 registrations.

  150. Let Those Who Ride Decide

    So the amount of riders over doubled & the percentage of riders went down?

    • In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    • In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.
    What percentage were caused by caged drivers? But it’s the motorcyclists fault for not wearing a helmet? How about charging each cage driver found to be at fault in an accident with a motorcycle with attempted vehicular homicide?

  151. Mark

    @Neil, so you really do concede that the only point in helmet laws is to protect YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY from YOUR DANGEROUS DRIVING.

    In a free country that believes in deontological ethics, the solution is for you to drive more safely, rather than for your insurance company to lobby your state to require ME to protect myself from YOU.

  152. Bob Thompson

    This is article is pure, grade A, #1, bull caca. The “facts” aren’t facts, just statements of the writer’s misguided mind. But he’ll never admit it.

  153. Joggernot

    I find it sad that the author wrote such a biased and skewed story. His only claim to fame will be incorrect and skewed “facts” in his article. The most egregious skewing is his statement that motorcycle deaths have more than doubled since 1997. What he conveniently leaves out is that motorcycle riders have more than doubled. End result deaths as a percent of riders has remained essentially steady at 0.053%. There are some risks in life including the proverbial crossing of a street. This level of risk is well within the range that normal people work in.

  154. Bruce

    @ Fred To my earlier point I’ll be happy to sign one the day you and your passengers sign one. If I’m willing to do that to save such a minimal amount I’m sure you would be willing to put on a helmet or save the rest of us from your potential medical costs with such a waiver. Oh wait, maybe when our feet hit the floor in the morning we should both just be responsible for our own choices. In addition if you are going to continue to believe that you should be in charge of everyone’s activities you should at least try to base your assumptions on fact. I live in WV where we have no choice and our insurance is considerably higher than the states around us that allow choice. Go figure. Sorry for cherry picking numbers with no regard for proper statistical analysis but if the author can do it, a lowly commenter surely should be allowed the same privilege.

  155. rigger

    I’ll support helmet laws when it makes sense to have laws on what type of clothing needs to be worn in what temperatures, having to wear a large brim hat in the sunshine, having to wear a floatation device when in water up to the chin,having to cut food in small enough sizes as not to cause chocking, etc.. Now do you get it? It is part of being an adult in the United States of America to have the right and the responsibility to chose what protection is appropriate. Got to a country that tells its citizens how to dress, act, and how to live if you don’t want the rights and responsabilities given here. Leave me to live FREE and chose for myself!

  156. Paul Truax

    Helmet manufacturers provide a product for about 95% of motorcycle riders.
    I am part of the few who cannot buy a properly fitting DOT approved full face helmet.
    In fourteen years of riding, I have not died (yet).
    Why do all these people want to deny me the opportunity to ride?

  157. Mike Campbell

    Every person in these United States as far as I’m concerned has their right to their own thoughts and opinion, BUT the absolute stupidest part of this story is the fact of supporting discrimination and profiling by the author. If roadblocks for ALL vehicles were mentioned or supported then I could at least live with that rule or law and again as long as you stopped ALL vehicles. I am very happy to live in a state that its constitution bans discriminatory behavior.

  158. splatt rattzenberger

    Uh…do helmets prevent accidents? Tell that to Dale Earnhardt. Tell that to the NFL. Maybe if the NFL went back to leather helmets, they’d THINK before they bopped heads like rams in heat. Prevent the accident in the first place – and you won’t need a helmet in the second place….because once you’ve gone down, you’ve already screwed the pooch.
    Remember….it’s NOT about the helmet…it’s about the CHOICE. How’s about we all pool our money and buy these Socialist Safetycrats® a first class bus ticket to Cuba. Yeah…I said bus…..

  159. red barron

    helmet laws still suck. if you wanna wear a helmet go ahead, but helmets do NOT prevent accidents and in some accidents the helmet will increase the severity of your injuries. a 3lb helmet, at 60mph, becomes a 180lb object that is on your head. the neck is the weakest link on the body, so helmets can and do cause paralysis. how would you like it if a law were passed that you could NOT ever wear a helmet? think about it. it is not the government’s job to force “safety” on anyone!

  160. Fred

    “Let Freedom Ring! I’ll make my choice on the helmet cause I’m free and I’m a Patriot.”

    Wonderful words Russ, please feel free to wrap yourself in the flag and ring all the bells you like. But if you think the flag will serve as protection for your head, you have been misinformed.

    But you didn’t actually respond to the point; which was: Will you freely accept (as a “Patriot” should) full responsibility for the consequences to yourself that arise from refusing to wear a helmet in the name of your freedom? That means all medical costs, including those not covered by your insurance, and not expect or accept treatment at cost to others.

    Will you sign a legal agreement to that effect? And will you require any person who rides as a passenger to make the same agreement?

    If you are not willing to do that, then you must want to limit the freedom of others who are forced to pay taxes and higher insurance premiums to cover people (like you) who want to be free but want others to pay for their freedom.

  161. Cletis

    @DHStraayer:

    To your first point, that the cited study’s death-to-accident ratio “smells of cherry-picking”: I’ll agree that if the California data spanned a few more years and still maintained the same trend indicated, it would be more compelling, but other than that, I think that the numbers are responsibly cited. What relevant variables do you think might be missing — intentionally or otherwise — from that study?

    But yes, arguments advocating mandatory helmet laws routinely use the same faulty correlations as are cited in the article on this page. They also misuse statistics in other, smaller ways as well; such as when they cite only motorcycle fatalities determined to have been caused by head injury, while rejecting all other modes of fatality — including neck injuries, which of course go up substantially with helmet use, due to the increased momentum experienced by the rider’s head, which translates into significant trauma when the body and head decelerate at different rates. But the offense committed by this article — the failure to normalize fatalities against the number of riders, and simply reporting them without any context, is much more egregious, as well as much more common.

    Just to add to the previous point about head injury versus neck injury: The well-respected and much-referenced Hurt Report (http://www.clarity.net/~adam/hurt-report.html) shows that the average speed of a collision-involved motorcycle at the time of impact is about 20 mph. (Specifically, 21.5 mph.) This broaches questions like, “At what speeds do helmets statistically tend to reduce injury, and at what speeds do they tend to increase injury?” and “At what speeds do helmets statistically tend to reduce fatalities, and at what speeds do they tend to increase fatalities?” I would dare to suggest two things:
    1. Fatal head injuries — or even non-fatal, brain-damage-inducing head injuries — are not particularly likely at 21.5 mph.
    2. The added momentum of a safety helmet, combined with the fact that helmet are only designed to meet the DOT specification of surviving a 14 mph impact, becomes a very real factor in the increased likelihood of serious neck injury at 20 mph.

    Perhaps the above analysis shows that some of the numbers in the reference cited by Warren, which show helmet use actually correlating with an *increased* incidence of fatalities, are not necessarily outliers to be discarded.

    Regarding your second point: “Is it possible that advocates are tolerating weak reasoning because the effect of getting fewer cycle riders is so effective at reducing harm?” You are very close here, except that a reduction in harm is perhaps not the overriding concern, but instead a reduction in insurance payouts. Consider the following points:
    1. Among the most vocal advocates of mandatory helmet laws, if not *the* most vocal, are vehicle insurance companies. (Obviously, this includes studies of helmet efficacy commissioned and funded by insurance companies.)
    2. Perhaps obviously, a claim involving a motorcycle — whether a single-vehicle or a multiple-vehicle collision — is likely to involve a much higher payout than any claim that does not involve a motorcycle.

    An insurer, then, has a vested interest in discouraging motorcycle riding, in order to keep claims down. Since helmet laws are shown (as in Warren’s cited reference) to be effective at reducing ridership, it is in the insurer’s interest to promote them.

    Further, consider the following:
    3. Motorcycles make up 1% or less of the total number of vehicles on the road.
    4. Vehicle insurers who insure motorcycles also insure passenger vehicles, recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles, etc.
    5. According to the Hurt Report, approximately 75% of motorcycle collisions involve a second vehicle.
    6. Also according to the Hurt Report, in about 70% of those two-vehicle collisions, the operator of the other vehicle is at fault.

    From the above points, we can conclude the following: Since 99% of the vehicles on the road are not motorcycles, this means that as an insurer, if one of your insureds is involved in a common two-vehicle motorcycle collision, there is a 99% chance that your insured is the driver of the other vehicle, and not the motorcycle. Therefore, since 70% of these collisions are the other driver’s fault, you are 99% of 70% likely to have to pay out in any such collision. Since motorcycle claims, whether or not a fatality is involved, are likely to be much higher than claims for other vehicles, due to much greater personal injury, we once again see a large incentive for insurers to discourage riding.

  162. Roadkill

    +This is nothing more than a rant touting motorcycle checkpoint laws. To paraphrase, training does nothing to help and actually INCREASES the danger, but helmets cure the disease…

    I’ll remind you that seatbelts secure the operator in a control position and safeguard non-operator passengers, and child safety seats secure underage passengers, so comparison is moot.

    At the point where a helmet benefits the motorcyclist, an action causing its benefit has already occurred, usually an incursion by another vehicle.

    Properly train the non-motorcycle vehicle operator on the awareness of the moto population, and the moto operator to better anticipate the actions of a non-moto public. That can’t be bad. Adequately apply incursion penalties (violations of Right of Way) to deter indifference.

    Helmets are a bandaid on a societal lack of moto awareness…

    Ride on.
    Roadkill
    http://www.roadkillonline.net/imagedb_images/35_10254.JPG

  163. gowhitten

    It is great to know there are so many potential organ donators out there. Hopefully when I need an organ transplant, I will be in a state without helmut laws.

  164. Russ Peterson

    Excellent point Bruce,
    On my drivers license I made a choice to be a organ donor, you know what? That was my choice, soon you won’t have a choice on anything, someone will tell you where you can live how many children you can have, how many miles you can drive your vehicle. My point here is all you people think your money is being spent paying for other peoples choices your sadly very misinformed. Don’t go whining around when something you like to do is taken away, if your thinking laws are written to protect the people wrong again too. It’s just a few that have a hard on and have nothing better to do.

  165. Kat Grover

    I live in Arizona, a freedom of choice state. I moved here from California, where my choice was taken away long before I started riding so I started with a helmet (because I had to). Daily, I miss being taken out by cagers, trucks, debris on the road, etc because I am a trained defensive rider always looking for the object/person that will strike me, pull out in front of me, run a red light, or try to run me over because they are inattentive doing 3-5 other things as they drive. Supporting the Motorcycle Riders Foundation/ American Motorcycle Association/Abate/Modified Motorcycle Association and all the other Motorcycle Rights Organizations lets look at our own overview of what and how we believe is true.
    Analysis: A number of inaccuracies and inconsistencies have been uncovered in examining data related to motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities. If the information is incorrect it can only lead to theories and conclusions that are also incorrect or, at the very least, suspect.
    Solution: Since much of the data is obviously flawed and most of the conclusions are therefore speculative at best, the only true solutions to motorcycle safety are proactive measures which prevent a collision from occurring at all rather than reactive steps that may offer some level of injury mitigation only after a crash has already taken place. Rider education that prepares the motorcyclist to interact with other roadway users by learning and practicing the skills necessary for hazard avoidance and developing a strategy to deal with real world traffic is the primary component of a comprehensive
    motorcycle safety plan. Additionally, educating all motor vehicle operators to be alert and free of impairment as they share the road with others is critical in deterring crashes caused by inattention.
    FACT: The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated over 120,000 airplane incidents, over 60,000 surface transportation incidents, and just 6 individual motorcycle incidents in their entire 44 year history — Apparently enough investigation to warrant adding mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists on their “top ten most wanted list”.
    FACT: According to preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, states that have a mandatory adult helmet law had six fewer fatalities in 2010 than in 2009, while free choice states saw a reduction of 74. The state with the single largest decline in fatalities (Texas -60) is a choice state and a state which requires helmets on all riders tied for the greatest increase (New York +24).
    Possible Errors? When errors, omissions or inaccuracies are discovered in reports or statistics, it calls into question the integrity of results. Additionally, small numbers can be easily skewed by slight or seemingly insignificant variations. Furthermore, numbers may be exploited if uncharacteristic highs or lows are used as a baseline. None of these discoveries are intended to argue against helmet use, but rather to demonstrate that suggesting a helmet law is not the solution to motorcycle safety. Individual states need to maintain the ability to determine what measures best address the needs and desires of their residents as suggested in the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety (NAMS).
    Warren Woodward states: If helmets have significant safety benefits, then the ratio of deaths to accidents should decline as the use of helmets increases, such as after a mandatory helmet law is enacted. Yet in most states the Death to Accident Ratio (DAR) averages between 2% to 3% both before and after helmet laws have been enacted. To summarize, helmet laws succeed in preventing deaths only by decreasing riders. Helmet laws may decrease head injuries in some instances but increase neck injuries in others. Riders know the risks inherent in riding and must be free to choose whether or not to wear a helmet.

  166. Bruce

    Those that think society needs to be protected from my choices would not bother me as much if you were not such hypocrites. If your objective is to save us all from the massive medical costs you all would be more convincing if you were begging for mandatory helmet laws for cars. Head injuries from motorcycle accidents account for about one tenth of one percent of those from accidents in other vehicles. So by my calculations that 1.3 million in savings would be 100 times more if they were mandatory in all vehicles. So either be consistent or get out of my life. One last question. How come my wife has the right to do anything she wants with her body until she throws her leg over our bike and all of the sudden it becomes your right to tell her how to dress?

  167. Russ Peterson

    Ya, Fred I’m good with that my own insurance pays, that what it’s designed for. Next time you hop in your car and fall asleep behind the wheel or you get flat loose, control, cross the center line and kill somebody I hope your insurance is good enough and the other vehicle has insurance. MY INSURANCE COVERS MY OWN @SS like it should. I’m not giving up my freedom, rights and privileges to anybody without a fight. You can’t put everyone in a stupid bubble to protect them, Just because you have a helmet on doesn’t necessarily mean your going to live through a crash, just like a seatbelt strapped you in when that semi tractor flattens your @ss doing 80 miles per hour. Figure it out. It’s my freedom of choice did you get that? Fred? My Country Tis of thee, Sweet Land of Liberty of thee I sing, over land of the free, home of the brave………..I hope your hands over your heart cause I’m a singing here…………….Let Freedom Ring! I’ll make my choice on the helmet cause I’m free and I’m a Patriot.

  168. McBolt

    http://boltusa.org/node/38

    1991/1992 Calif helmet bill was based on public burden. Projected $65 mil to $100 mil in costs to the state..yet less than 2 % of all vehicles were motorcycles. Channel 7 news did a great story. Caught the legislature in a dirty lie (Dick Floyd). Wilson signed into law anyway. When Dick was interviewed on why he lied…his quote “I don’t give a rats ass what figures you use. It’s the law. Wear the hat or go to jail”. Helmet laws have never really been about safety or public burden. I agree with the AMA comment, lots o studies. You’re on a bike and get hit by a car…little difference if any on medical costs…with or without a helmet. And Warren…his study is correct. Warren is one of the few on this site who has actually investigated and studied all of the facts and myths regarding wearing styrofoam and plastic on your head

  169. k howe

    MRF E-MAIL NEWS Motorcycle Riders Foundation
    236 Massachusetts Ave. NE | Suite 204 | Washington, DC 20002-4980
    202-546-0983 (voice) | 202-546-0986 (fax) | http://www.mrf.org

    12NR22 – MRF News Release – Bogus Motorcycle News Story – Take Action Now!

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    07 June 2012

    Contact: Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs

    Bogus Motorcycle News Story – Take Action Now!

    Today, the left-leaning watchdog investigative website, Fairwarning.org, released a story to the media titled: “Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators”. At first glance, I took offense at the title, then I thought. Yes, that’s exactly what the Motorcycle Riders Foundation has always done and will always do.

    The article used me as a source. I knew that this was going to be a negative story, so I did my best to temper the completely clueless (and I am being generous with that term) reporter and author Rick Schmitt.

    The story is out and has already been picked up by several major newspapers and major online news sites like MSNBC. Its likely that your regional papers and reporters will reproduce at least some of the whole article.

    Here is what I would like you to do. When you come across the story on your local papers’ website or any news website, leave some comments in the feedback section on the story. Be polite and be thought-provoking. Many people will read this story and not ever hear our side of the argument. Use this as an opportunity to point out the flaws in their argument. Use the MRF Fact or Fiction pieces to provide clear, concise points.

    Upon reading the story initially, I was outraged and my first notion was to give this reporter the one-finger salute, but that will only make motorcyclists look like the yokels that they want us to be.

    The single biggest point to make with this story and all like it is this simple fact.
    •In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    •In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.

    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.

    Read the whole story here: http://www.fairwarning.org/2012/06/despite-death-toll-motorcycle-groups-strive-to-muzzle-u-s-regulators/

    If leaving some well thought out comments doesn’t make you feel better, I have Mr. Schmitts home phone number. In all seriousness, let’s comment bomb this story like no other.

    Jeff

  170. Matt

    We need checkpoints for every car at which drivers would be searched for any cell phones. Any cell phones found would be searched for recent call and texting activity. Then we’d find an explanation for the rise in biker fatalities.

  171. Beenthere

    First of all usually just read these, but for some reason I felt like writing on this one. I am just kind of getting tired of my choices being taken away.

    And yes bottom line is CHOOSE!
    Unfortunately this all started with the Constitution of the United States of America, giving the senate the ability to do this. The government has always step in were ever they see a profit to the state. The issue with Washington now; is we have a governor that is about to leave her set and now she is signing everything she want, because she is not going for reelection. We should make a law that says senators cannot sign anything one year before the reelection. The Fifth Amendment is one part of the constitution that gives the people a chance. Every year the government seems to be a taking a CHOOSE away from the people. If we want to fix this, we need to start with who’s running our government. Somehow we need to make a choice on who’s running for office. Money wins now; you buy the elections now a day’s. Put somebody that has sweat and blood on their hands, not paper cuts and ink stains.
    I have been riding for 30+ years and Yea I wear a helmet, but not because of the law, but from past accidents that were no fault of my own. Hit in the head with a deer hoof in Montana, no helmet, fluke yes. Run of the road by a semi, again no fault of my own, and no helmet. And the last crash in 08 was due to the streets not being cleaned after winter (Grave) and an inexperienced passenger, my fault, probably, first ride in February. OK more caution. Was wearing a helmet, yep, and destroyed it. OK I choose too!
    If you got a negative opinion, try going for a ride on two wheels.

  172. Vern

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact.
    There are several underlying reasons for the motorcycle-only road stops, none of which will reduce fatalities as much as enforcing cellphone laws and educating veh drivers to pay attention. The only positive benefit from these stops will be revenues in the areas where they may be allowed.
    Helmets are tested by Schnell and DOT for safety. This test is completed by droping the helmet from a height of 15 feet. It passes if it does not crack or break. This is equivelent to an impact at 15 MPH. Most 15 MPH accidents do not result in a fatality.
    My feeling is you do not need a helmet if you have nothing to put in one, but that should be a choice, no a mandate.

  173. McBolt

    • In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    • In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.

    I had no idea that the vast majority of motorcyclists killed were/are primarily due to head trauma. When Dick Floyd (CA) presented the helmet bill (1991) for CA, the emergency room doctors at that time stated only 4% of all motorcycle deaths were due to head trauma. I’ve been riding for over 40 years and I always thought the vast majority of deaths were caused by chest trauma. I read that if a helmet actually complied with FMVSS218 (and most do not) the maximum sustainable impact was around 13.2 MPH. So what helmet offers realistic protection from brain trauma? They all protect the outside of the head…but which ones actually absorb enough energy to protect the brain? Last time I cut a helmet in two it was still styrofoam on the inside; have they changed to new modern energy aborbing material? What is the difference between a $40 helmet and $400 helmet? (besides $360). I saved that NHTSA report a long time ago, it is based on “assumptions”. Anybody can write a report and twist anyway you want if you don’t have to prove your facts. Public burden? Compared to what? I always hear the chatter but no facts…just assumptions. This is just another article to create argument from those (especially the author) who really have never personally investigated helmets. There is a good realisitc article out there…the editor was fired…pressure from the helmet companies. The guy who wrote the article is 100% pro helmet…but he told the facts “helmet performance..blowing the lid off”. It is still floating around the internet. You be responsible for your safety and I will be responsible for mine…DUI checkpoints…motorcycle checkpoints..one has to believe that real Americans are have just become a myth…thank GOD the government is here to protect me…stupid Constitution..unalienable rights…life liberty pursuit of happiness…what were they thinking?

  174. Jim

    •In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.055% of the motorcyclists were killed.
    •In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. Or 0.053% of the motorcyclists were killed.

    So we have more than doubled the motorcycle population. Fact. And we have actually reduced fatalities. Fact

  175. Bill

    ““This is…an interesting and dangerous road they are going down,” said Jackie Gillan, president of the Washington-based nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “They are so emboldened now, not only do they try to repeal laws and stop them from being enacted, they try to stop the hands of law enforcement, saying you cannot use grant money to have motorcycle checkpoints. Can you imagine if they said the same thing about sobriety checkpoints?”

    Well Jackie, sobriety checkpoints are for ALL ROAD USERS, not just motorcyclists. If police set up checkpoints FOR ALL ROAD USERS, they could educate ALL ROAD USERS to be on the lookout for motorcyclists, to NOT text while driving, to NOT yak on a cell phone when driving, etc. But, cops that set up MOTORCYCLE ONLY checkpoints do virtually NOTHING to make the roads safer. Afterall, motorcyclists are a fraction of ALL ROAD USERS.

  176. Rick

    Why don’t you mention that the amount of motorcycle riders has more than doubled while the fatality rate has actually dropped. Why not argue the facts. I ride and wear a helmet. While in Oregon it is not by my choice, it would be if given the choice.

  177. BikerEric

    JUST A BIKER

    I saw you; hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line.
    But you didn’t see me put an extra $10.00 in the collection plate last Sunday.

    I saw you pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk.
    But you didn’t see me playing Santa at the local Mall.

    I saw you change your mind about going into the restaurant when you saw my bike parked out front. But you didn’t see me attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief.

    I saw you roll up your window and shake your head when I rode by.
    But you didn’t see me riding behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

    I saw you frown at me when I smiled at your children.
    But you didn’t see me, when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless.

    I saw you stare at my long hair.
    But you didn’t see me and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

    I saw you roll your eyes at our Leather jackets and gloves.
    But you didn’t see me and my brothers donate our old ones to those that had none.

    I saw you look in fright at my tattoos.
    But you didn’t see me cry as my children where born or have their name written over and in my heart.

    I saw you change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere.
    But you didn’t see me going home to be with my family.

    I saw you complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be.
    But you didn’t see me when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.

    I saw you yelling at your kids in the car.
    But you didn’t see me pat my child’s hands knowing she was safe behind me.

    I saw you reading the newspaper or map as you drove down the road.
    But you didn’t see me squeeze my wife’s leg when she told me to take the next turn.

    I saw you race down the road in the rain.
    But you didn’t see me get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date.

    I saw you run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time.
    But you didn’t see me trying to turn right.

    I saw you cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in.
    But you didn’t see me leave the road.

    I saw you, waiting impatiently for my friends to pass.
    But you didn’t see me. I wasn’t there.

    I saw you go home to your family.
    But you didn’t see me. Because I died that day you cut me off.

    I was just a biker. A person with friends and a family. But you didn’t see me.
    Repost this around in hopes that people will understand the biker community..
    If you don’t repost this, it sucks to be you. I hope you never lose someone that rides.

    EVEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE US, RESPECT OUR RIGHTS TO RIDE WHAT WE CHOOSE AND TAKE A FEW EXTRA SECONDS TO BE SURE WE ARE NOT IN ‘YOUR’ WAY!

    LOOK TWICE AND SAVE A LIFE

  178. Gregg

    I have been riding motorcycles for over 45 years now—-and with a helmet most of the last 20 years. I have always been a believer of “let those who ride decide.” In 1999 I had my only 2 motorcycle accidents in those 45 years. And during both accidents, I was wearing a helmet. And both times, it was the helmet that probably saved me from serious head trauma even though I was knocked out cold. I’ll never forget the EMS responders talking to each other about what “good” shape I was in considering what had happened. I learned from that. And now I always wear a helmet, as does my son, and my daughter…and all by choice.

  179. Fred

    “Ya, Vince, bulls$&!t !! Why don’t they just make a law for everything”

    Tell yawhat Russ: Just sign an agreement that frees any medical service to deny free care to you should your thick skull meet with the pavement or telephone pole your “training” didn’t help you to avoid.

    That way the rest of us don’t have to pay your medical bills for the rest of your life! I mean you are a rugged individualist who doesn’t need laws for everything and who can take care of himself, right?

    You OK with that Russ?

  180. Brad

    I have been riding for over 30 years and ride an average of 12,000 miles a year. I always wear a helmet and one has saved my life when I was hit by a pickup that took a left turn across my lane. I think it is a personal choice that everyone should make themselves. I also think that I should get a discount on my bike insurance for always wearing a helmet. Riders that make the choice to not wear should be required to have more insurance than $20,000. I should not have to pay higher insurance rates because of your choice. I support your choice, but don’t make me pay for it with higher rates.

  181. Russ Peterson

    Neil, sorry I spelled your name wrong, But the offer is still there, I saw you didn’t capitalize your N for Neil so good grammar didn’t matter much to you, I’m hurt but the offer still stands, I’m a man of my word.

  182. Dewey Laws

    I am sick of all of this about helments saving lives. Why don’t all of you that want to push this on us start wearing one inside of your autos, better yet wear one when you walk out the door for a walk. This way you will be protected in a auto crash are if you step on your own big feet when you can’t see past your nose for letting someone else run your life by taking all of you freedom of choice away from you.

  183. GOWhitten

    I should have clarified that when I said the AMA was originally against helmet laws, I meant the American Medical Association, not the American Motorcycle Association (I do not know they stood on this issue in the 1970s and 1980s). I started riding motorcycles in the early 1960s and it never occurred to us to wear (let alone have) a helmut. By the 1970s when I started riding dirt bikes and competing in enduro races, everyone wore helmuts. I still ride today, and I do wear a helmut. It seems like a good idea, just like it is a good idea not to smoke.

  184. neil

    nice mark, im sure you have seen me drive before so you would know i never use my phone while driving. Just because you ride a bike does not make you unable to cause an accident. ITS YOUR LACK OF PROTECTION THAT CHANGES AN ACCIDENT TO A DEATH

  185. charles Thomas

    Interesting how they got all their information from the nhtsa documents and from insurance companies who want an excuse to raise rates to line their pockets

  186. DHStraayer

    I teach statistics, and frequently commute on an electric motor scooter (with helmet). In teaching regression, two mantras are “correlation does not imply causation” and “what are the potential lurking variables?” Warren’s link makes an assertion about a lurking variable in “helmet laws save lives” argument – that the reduction in fatality is due to reduction in riding. I’m uncomfortable with his focus on Death/Accident ratio – that smells of “cherry-picking”. I would like to see helmet advocates directly address the lurking variable problem, though.
    Sometimes we make weak arguments “for the greater good”. I’ve seen it suggested that this happens in the second-hand-smoke debate. “Maybe second-hand-smoke isn’t that dangerous, but prohibiting smoking in public places discourages a lot of smokers into giving it up, so a little poor reasoning is justified by the ends.”
    Is it possible that advocates are tolerating weak reasoning because the effect of getting fewer cycle riders is so effective at reducing harm?

  187. Linda

    I have been involved with the motorcyclist rights movement for over 22 years and my question to the writer of this article is “show me the money”!! Most states have an organization named ABATE(A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments or the more politically correct American Bikers Aiming Towards Education) or Concerned Motorcyclists, or such. These organizations are ALL volunteer…none of us get reimbursed to travel, in my case 2 hours to visit the state capital every Monday night January-March. Do motorcyclists have credibility in the state houses?
    Damn right we do, but not because we go the the $500 a plate fundraisers, but becuase we tell the truth, we are presistant, we build longtime friendships with the Legislators. We are the ones serving the food at the fundraisers, parking the cars, putting out yard signs etc. The writer uses terms like “muzzle”, thwarted, gag, emboldened if you felt that your rights were being abridged by the nanny state would you sit by and let it go?? The helmet issue is almost a dead issue for many of us, smart highways, emmissions, engine size restrictions, tire aging, texting and driving deaths, E15 gasoline engine damage and a host of others are really what motorcyclists are concerned with. We were told some time ago by a NHSTA guru that when they finished with the new regulations that the only thing we would be able to change on our motorcycles would be “color and chrome”. One final note, let’s see the stats for head injuries from vehicle accidents with unrestrained or restrained passangers. We have already looked at these, it will make you wonder why auto drivers are not required to wear a helmet!! After all safety first!! The best alarm clock is sunshine on chrome, safe rides

  188. neil

    well i would doubt you could do a very good job of it seeing that you cant spell my name right when its in front of you. But seeing that you have very little up there to protect with a helmet maybe it is ok to not require them.

  189. Mark

    @neil, If you don’t like insurance premiums because of folks on motorcycles, GET OFF THE CELL PHONE AND CHECK YOUR BLIND SPOT BEFORE YOU MOVE INTO MY LANE!

    If you don’t cause crashes with motorcycles and you put yourself into an insurance pool of drivers who don’t, you don’t have to worry about insurance costs. So whether or not we are wearing helmets or not only matters if you are at-fault in an accident and hit us.

    I choose to wear a helmet to protect myself from YOUR UNSAFE DRIVING CAUSING YOUR CAR TO HIT ME.

  190. Russ Peterson

    Niel, I’ll sell you that insurance for a good rate, I can send you a quote today and guess what? I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free airline ticket to………..you ready? ya? North Korea, all expenses paid, free Hotel, fine dining, all you can drink open bar, oh wait you’ll need extra dum@ss insurance for that, I’ll have to redo the quote, but it will enter you for another chance at the trip! :)

  191. James

    In the Land of the Free: “Let those who RIDE decide” – period.

  192. neil

    great should i get dumb@ss insurance because people cant wear one piece of protective equipment? I would rather them pass legislation to prevent anyone else but you for being liable for your head injury from an accident where you didnt wear a helmet.

  193. Harold Kushner

    I am currently 81 years old and have been riding since 1992. At the present time I have accumulated over 400,000 miles of riding, both for pleasure and business. I have been involved in two serious incidents with automobiles. One I was rear ended, my wife was on the back and a speeding SUV hit us at about 65 mph according to witnesses in a 45 mph speed limit zone. In the other a 16 year old with a 2 week old license made a left turn into me while talking to her passenger and looking to her right. Both of these incidents resulted in head contact with the pavement without head injury because we were wearing full helmets. The biggest advantage of wearing a helmet is protection against inept automobile operators.

  194. Steve

    How many more motorcycles are on the road now vs. 1997? How many of these deaths are due to major head injury? I think we need to know the answer to these two questions before we make assumptions about this data. I see two very partisan sides yelling at one another rather than looking for the truth.

  195. GOWhitten

    Everyone is missing the real point here. When all the helmet laws were originally enacted, the pool of potential organ donors significant decreased. Why do you think the the AMA was mute on this subject originally (they received a lot of flack about this)? I say, let them ride without helmets and let other people live!

  196. KKing

    Russ Peterson – Well said!

    Warren – Great Post!

    I ride and wear a helmet, but only because I want to, which is the way it should be.

  197. Pete terHorst

    Fairwarning.org’s statement that it “strives to provide [this] coverage as a non-partisan, non-ideological public service” does not ring true in this story.

    The federally funded motorcycle crash causation study, conducted by Professor Hugh “Harry” Hurt, Jr., documented the efficacy of rider education. The 1981 report said: “The basic Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation is effective in training motorcycle riders and those trained riders are both less involved and less injured in motorcycle accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also cited rider education as effective in its 2005 report, “Promising Practices in Motorcycle Rider Education and Licensing.” The report states: “Although evidence of the effectiveness of rider education on crash reduction is mixed, several studies have shown that trained riders tend to have fewer crashes, less severe crashes, and overall lower cost of damage resulting from crashes.”

    Why were these facts left out of this article to provide objective balance?

    Furthermore, the article selectively cites statistics to suggest that motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, yet failed to point out that motorcycle sales surged dramatically during the same period, or that motorcycle fatalities dropped 16% percent in 2009 and have stayed relatively flat in 2010 and 2011.

    Highlighting Michael Dabbs statement that “Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill” displays crassness and editorial bias because there is no evidence that injured motorcyclists are any more likely to be a public burden than other roadway users. A Harborview Medical Center study published in 1988 reported that injured motorcyclists in the trauma center relied on public funds a lower percentage of the time than did automobile drivers to pay their hospital bills during the same time period. Also, a 1992 study by the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center reported that automobile drivers and motorcyclists have their medical costs covered by insurance at a nearly identical rate.

    All of this information (and more) was provided to your reporter, Rick Schmitt, in our extensive correspondence. I can only assume that his copy was selectively edited upstream by your editor(s) to fit a preconceived desire to promote helmet mandates.

    The American Motorcyclist Association strongly advocates helmet use, but opposes mandates because they do nothing to prevent crashes. Motorcycle crash prevention should be the overarching policy of our elected officials and the regulatory community. Programs such as rider training and motorist awareness are effective, yet history has taught us that when helmet mandates are enforced, scarce resource dollars are siphoned away from these programs.

    We applaud the courage of legislators, such as U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who have taken on the powerful helmet mandate interest groups that seem less concerned with promoting policies that prevent motorcycle crashes, and more concerned with reducing insurance payments after crashes occur.

    Pete terHorst
    AMA spokesperson

  198. Bob Rudolph

    I’ve been a motorcyclist for around 55 years – dating to well before the time helmets were either fashionable or useful.

    Mostly I wear a helmet.

    I am, however, convinced that the call for universal helmets is misplaced – a helmet may assure that I don’t die, but by assuring that it can also assure me a “life” as a quadriplegic or in a persistent vegetative state. Those are not life choices I want – I’d rather be dead quickly.

    I also consider such a law to be discriminatory – not against motorcyclist, but against all occupants of all other highway vehicles. After all, head injuries are a primary cause of death regardless of chosen vehicle – would it not be logical therefore to require all drivers and passengers in all highway vehicles to wear an approved helmet? Has there ever been a study on the effectiveness of helmets for other motorized vehicles? I have to believe that racing drivers would not be required to wear helmets and fire suits if there were not some benefit to them, as both can be uncomfortable.

    I will support a law mandating helmets when it is written in such a way as to afford all persons in all types of vehicle the same protection as folks want to assure for motorcyclists.

    Unless of course there is a reason to believe that my head and its contents are of more value than a person in a car.

  199. Mark

    I choose to wear a helmet when I ride, because it will save MY life.

    That said, please stop focusing on forcing other people to protect themselves from their own foolish behavior and please start focusing on telling them WHY they should and HOW they can. Whatever public harm (in terms of insurance rates, social costs, or emergency response expenses) biker fatalities may do is easily outweighed by a reduction in the retirement liabilities of social security and medicare.

    As for the growing anti-helmet libertarian trend, letting people making their own decisions when it comes to things that can only harm or help THEM is simply good government. It’s healthy for the country. I don’t see why FairWarning.org needs to paint this as an ominous trend.

  200. Steve Timpani

    I have been riding motorcycles for over 45 years and anybody who fights helmut laws already has brain issues. It’s like cigareete packs that clearly state “Cancer” on the side and still smoke. Yes we have to help the idiots that can’t or wont help themselves. If I’m in a car and have a fendor bendor with another car (no problem), but if I hit someone on a motorcycle and they are seriosly injured or die because they didn’t have a helmut on, I have to live the rest of my life with the guilt because of their choice. Wear a helmut every motorcylce rider law or no law.

  201. Noel F.

    In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities for 3,826,000 motorcycles registered. That’s 0.055%
    In 2010, there were 4,502 fatalities for 8,368,000 motorcycles registered. That’s 0.053%

    So, even though there were actually MORE motorcycles on the road, the percentage of fatal accidents dropped. And it’s still less than 1% of motorcyclists on the road. So I’m not sure that FairWarning.org is really doing their due diligence when it comes to researching their facts for this story. Plus, you can’t blame just one factor for something with as many variables as this issue has. For example, how many of these new motorcycle deaths were caused by a some idiot texting (obviously not a problem in 1997) while driving? Look at how much safer the average car is now than in 1997. Now look at a motorcycle. Pretty much the same safety features as in 1997.
    I wear a helmet. I don’t wear it because I doubt my abilities, or because I drive dangerously. It’s because I don’t trust the Cagers that commute to work on the same roads that I do. But I have the right to not wear one if I so choose. Just as I have the right to CHOOSE to smoke (I don’t) or to weigh 300lbs (again, I don’t). There’s some things that the government doesn’t need to stick their noses into. Personally, I think this is one of them.

  202. Warren

    Get the facts. Read Helmet Law Facts here: http://www.sbumaui.org/helmet_law_facts.pdf

  203. Russ Peterson

    Ya, Vince, bulls$&!t !! Why don’t they just make a law for everything, why don’t they make a law so everyday when you go out in the sun you put you spf50 on so don’t get skin cancer, why don’t they make a law for every little thing that might endanger your life and others, if you got a head cold your quarentined to your house so nobody else gets it. You idiots out there want a law for everything. I want my choice to enjoy life how I see it, not how everyone wants me to live it. I like freedom to choose my own way, not being led down the road like a herd of sheep. I ride a motorcycle and I’ll choose when and where I feel like putting on a helmet, it’s my choice not yours or anybody elses. When people go to Mt Everest to get to the top and running the risk of death, do you think there’s anybody out there saying, oh my, you can’t do that, you might die, well maybe just maybe there should be a law for that to, the list is endless on every thing in this world, endless, we in the US enjoy freedom! And there seem to be this thing people like and that is giving up freedom, go for it is all I can say, don’t include the rest of us. Move to a communist country if you like that atmosphere, North Korea would be a excellent choice, I’ll even buy your one way ticket just let me know.

  204. Mark welch

    Is this a helmet issue or an increase in riders due to a rise in fuel cost? What percent of riders died in accidents last year compared to any other year? A much more accurate comparison. I ride. I Wear a helmet

  205. Louis V. Lombardo

    Bravo!!!

    Very well done!

    A checkpoint suggestion. We need a checkpoint in Washington for all lobbyists and legislators who are hired to advocate for anti life saving measures to put on their moral and ethical helmets to protect the public interest.

    Maybe FairWarning can get a grant to create computerized a Wall of Shame for all lobbyists and legislators who act against the health and safety of the public.

    Thank you, too, for the quote that shockingly may be truer in practice than one might think:

    “Maybe we ought to save some of the costs when police or emergency responders go to the scene of a crash and the person is not wearing a helmet. Perhaps they ought to be left there like roadkill.”

    – Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, attacking the logic of helmet law critics

    The fact is that for decades – for all crash victims – the percentage of all crash fatalities not taken to any facility for medical treatment has been steadily growing and now exceeds 50%.

    See Figure 2 at:
    http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/CareForCrashVictims/2005_ESV_Paper_on_URGENCY.html

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