Every now and then someone will comment on an older post. Like today, when a reader commented on this one, written 16 years ago. I couldn’t remember what I said back then, so I re-read the post. Hmmm … it appears my thoughts on motorcycle helmet laws have evolved.
My feelings are no longer mixed. Helmets should be mandatory for motorcycle riders and passengers in all 50 states.
When I wrote the original post, I still occasionally rode without a helmet, but those days are long gone. I always wear a helmet now, and have for years. As for making it a requirement for everyone, it’s what I said in the original post: riding a motorcycle on public roads is not a right. States impose all sorts of regulatory restrictions on vehicles and operators, and requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets is no different from requiring cagers to wear seatbelts.
Here’s the original post from September 2, 2004.
Helmet laws suck. Helmets, on the other hand … I have mixed feelings on the issue of mandatory helmet laws. I don’t want the government to order me to wear a helmet, but if it does I’ll strap one on in order to continue riding.
I live in Arizona, a no-helmet-law state, and on weekend rides in the country I generally don’t wear a helmet. Frankly I’m glad I live in a state where I can choose.
However, I work on a USAF base, and in order to ride on base I must wear a helmet (plus full-finger gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long sleeve shirt, eye protection, and reflective vest). I don’t have any problem with that. I think the USAF is within its rights to require that of me.
If the Arizona legislature started talking about enacting a helmet law I’d fight it to the extent of writing my representatives to ask them to vote against it, participating in anti-helmet rallies, and signing ABATE petitions … but I wouldn’t fall on my sword over the issue, and if Arizona were to pass a helmet law I’d shut up and comply with it.
Why? Because riding a motorcycle on public roads is not a right. Going to the church of my choice is a right. Speaking my mind is a right. Voting for someone other than George W. Bush, no matter what Zell Miller thinks, is a right. Operating a vehicle on public roads is not a right. When I got my Arizona license I entered into a contract with the state, agreeing to comply with traffic laws and regulations, and I expect my fellow drivers to do the same.
As far as the safety side of the debate, there’s really no argument. Personally, if I were king (and had the sense of responsibility toward my people a king ought to have), I’d impose a universal helmet law and make sure it was enforced. Good thing I’m not the king, eh?
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