Thursday, May 21, 2009


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:
  1. Dropped
  2. In an accident
  3. Are too old
They will not provide protection. Helmets can often get hairline cracks in the foam if they have been dropped or in an accident. They may bust in another accident. The foam breaks down over time and old helmets should be discarded. I don't know if they can recycled but that would be a good idea.

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.


Anonymous said...

I called the governors office today to encourage him to veto this bill. I agree if we don't have a helmet law, then why do we need a seat belt law? I think it is being a hypocrite and maybe it's two different things but its all about safety.

John said...

Regarding this antiquated law – Let us NOT forget that many, many other potentially dangerous activities do not require the wearing of a helmet. Surely I need not list them all. It is not the position of government to protect me from myself.
It is also my understanding the new law, if passed, will still require motorcycle enthusiasts to wear a helmet on Missouri Interstate highways. This proposal makes absolutely no sense at all. What route(s) would we take to other states from our homes? The vast majority of motorcycle accidents do not occur on highways. The number one killer of motorcycle enthusiasts is the motorist turning left at an intersection cutting off the motorcyclist. Let us also not forget the number one reason for automobile fatalities – Head Injuries! So, should the state require all motorists to wear a helmet? Of course not; that would be equally ridiculous.
The problem is the motorist who sadly states, “I did not see him”. Missouri should direct its efforts toward public awareness in lieu of punishing us enthusiasts. Let us also not forget, Missouri is bordered on all sides by helmet-free states and is one of approximately 20 states interfering in private lives.
I, along with many others I know, voted you in hoping common sense would prevail.
John Ponzo

Motorcycle Helmets said...

Hey Motorcycle Helmets are very important accessories, because it is the only thing which helps you to save your head to get damaged in accidents, and i think everyone should use it compulsorily...