Motorcyclists Need Training, Not Helmets


I would like to respond to the "Our View" that appeared in the Roundup on Tuesday, Oct. 19. It seems that the "paper's" view is that motorcyclists should be mandated, by law, to wear helmets.

I find it odd that our local newspaper, or any newspaper for that matter, would endorse the loss of yet another freedom for citizens of the United States. Where do we, as a nation of people that pride ourselves on freedom, draw the line?

I would like to put a few facts on the table, so to speak.What follows is just a small portion of the facts and figures concerning helmet use, accident, and medical expenses:

• NHTSA admits that motorcycle accidents make up only 1/10 of 1 percent of all medical expenses.

  • Only 2.5 percent of registered motorcycles are involved annually in accidents, representing just 1.1 percent of overall vehicle accidents. -- MSF and National Safety Council, 1990.

• From a 1988 American Motorcyclists Association report: The national average of motorcycle fatalities per 100 accidents is 2.95. However, states with rider education and no helmet law show the lowest average of only 2.56 deaths, while states with helmet laws but no training have a significantly higher rate of 3.09.

• The American College of Surgeons declared in 1980 that improper helmet removal from injured persons may cause paralysis.

• Relative to the number of registered motorcycles, states with mandatory helmet laws had 12.5 percent more accidents and 2.3 percent more fatalities than free-choice states for the 14 year period 1977-90. --Accident and Fatality Statistics analyzed by A.R. Mackenzie, M.D.

• It is concluded that: motorcycle helmets have no significant effect on probability of fatality; and past a critical impact speed, helmets increase the severity of neck injuries." -- Dr. Jonathan Goldstein, Bowdoin College.

These are just a few of the facts as far as the issue is concerned. The real issue here is freedom. We must not continue to roll over and relinquish our precious freedoms. Benjamin Franklin said, "If you are willing to give up one ounce of freedom for even a moment's safety and security, you deserve neither safety nor security."

In closing, 45.5 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents had no motorcycle license; 92 percent had no formal training, and more than half had less than six months experience. Sixty-two percent of the accidents and 50 percent of the fatalities involve riders between the ages of 17-26.

Instead of more laws, why not develop a formal motorcycle safety program? A few tax dollars spent here could save lives and dollars without the unacceptable high price of one more freedom lost!

Mike McLaughlin, Payson

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