Missouri's motorcycle helmet mandate repeal is on the desk of the Governor. Will he or won't he? I hope that he does veto the repeal and keep the helmet laws on the books. Now, that will put me in dutch with my biker friends, the Harley ones anyway. Speaking in generalities, the majority of the hog riders seem to support helmet repeals. For them it is a rights issue.
Interestingly enough, the metric bikers appear to be more aligned with the wearing of real helmets. I cannot think of the last time I saw some college kid on a cafe racer without a full face helmet. It is a safety issue with the rest of us.
Rights versus Safety/Common Good
The Common Misconception about Motorcycle Helmets
I think most people assume that all riders wear helmets now because of the law. They would be wrong. Oh, we all wear something on our heads to prevent law enforcement entanglements, but many of the helmets you see on Harley riders and cruiser-styled bikes are not helmets at all.
There are three types of legal, DOT-approved helmets. They are pictured below. All three provide proper protection against head injuries.
The type that most Harley riders were is this plastic novelty helmet shown below. It has no protective foam of any kind. It is merely a plastic shell designed to get around helmet laws.
I have a full face, a half helmet and a novelty helmet. I've worn them all. When I first started riding, I bought a novelty helmet because that's what everyone else did. They are more comfortable. The man that sold it to me gave me a DOT sticker to put on it to keep from getting in trouble with the law. I never put it on. The police don't care so long as you have something helmet-like on your bulb.
I later decided that I wanted to protect my grey matter. I am a father after all. So my wife bought me a DOT half helmet from Harley. I love it. It is a bit bulkier, heavier and hotter than the novelty helmet; however, it offers protection. My daughter has a full face helmet. By the way, a child needs a youth helmet. Adult helmets come too low on a child or youth and can damage their neck in an accident. Also, never buy a used helmet. They may appear safe, but if they have been:
- In an accident
- Are too old
When people cite the statistics regarding increased fatalities because of helmetless riders, I am often skeptical because the people who hate helmet laws, do not wear helmets currently. They wear brain buckets and are at an equal risk of injury and death as a helmetless rider.
I hope Gov. Nixon vetoes the bill. I don't think it is in the best interests of the community. The helmet law is the same as the seat belt law and we don't have active lobbies to repeal those. Do we?
I'm curious if insurance companies have any clauses that prevent them from having to pay out in the event a biker is not wearing a real DOT helmet? I don't think they should, but it would not surprise me.