The idea of not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is one of those things that really makes me scratch my head, which I’m thankful to still have… thanks to, oh I don’t know, a helmet?

Shocker, right? I know…

But somehow, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle on public roads. There are 28 states that have partial helmet laws, but the rules are mostly age-based, only requiring riders usually under the age of 21 to always wear a helmet. And that leaves three states, (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) where there are no helmet laws whatsoever. Fortunately, most riders across America opt to wear one regardless of the option not to. Hats off to you! Hehe…

motorcycle helmet

Some riders opposed to wearing helmets claim they restrict visibility. Well, perhaps this DOT-, SNELL- and BDSM-approved helmet. Equally protective on the bike and in the sheets, or ropes… (We don’t judge.)

I don’t know if there’s an argument you could present in favor of convincing me to not wear a helmet while riding. There are certain exceptions of course, like putting around the campsite or to the end of the driveway to get the mail and other similar scenarios, but these instances are usually reserved for small-displacement bikes, not bigger street-going motorcycles – I’m going to strap my helmet on every time, without fail, whenever riding on the road. I’ve seen what happens when you don’t…

There’s an ongoing debate in Nebraska to repeal the mandatory helmet law currently in the state senate. Proponents of the repeal have interesting reasons to revoke the universal law. Senator John Lowe believes and argues, “Personal liberty and the right for an individual to run their own life, as long as it does not direct harm to others, is one of the fundamental tenets of our founding documents.”

Well, while this may be a compelling point, it falls into the “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” category for me, personally. Like, you can eat that Carolina Reaper ghost pepper with a bazillion Scoville Heat Units, or stick your head in that alligator’s mouth – go ahead, the Internet will thank you. But why would you? Especially since you know how it’s going to end. I think I speak for just about everybody when I say, you don’t need a scientist or doctor to tell you who wins when your naked head hits a wall or the pavement at 60 mph…

motorcycle helmet

Pictured: a brave contestant competing for not one, but two Darwin Awards including “Best Motorcycle Crash” and “Most Road Rash”

By the same token, though, I am a firm believer in live and let live – so, touché. I have no rebuttal to that. Senator Mike Groene proposed the economic benefits of repealing the helmet law: “We need more people to see our beautiful state,” he said. “And we need more people coming through this state driving Highway 2, It’s the road that takes motorcyclists right to the Black Hills and Sturgis.”

This argument was backed up by the reasoning that helmets obstruct a rider’s vision – give me a break. You show me a person who didn’t enjoy riding some of the most beautiful roads America has to offer because they had a helmet on, and I’ll show you a liar.

Anyway, I could go on ranting all day long why wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle plays in the rider’s favor, but I’m unlikely to change the minds of those who demand unconditional freedom. Check out this article in Lincoln’s Journal Star that got my helmet strap in a twist and tell us how you feel about wearing a helmet.

As always, be safe and be smart out there.

  • Jon Jones

    The Loud-Pipe Goons are the biggest anti-helmet group.

    Go figure.

    • Old MOron

      Heh, tell ’em to paint this thing black, put some flames or skulls on it.
      They’re in business!
      http://motorcycle.com.vsassets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/weird-motorcycle-helmet.png

      • Jon Jones

        A “Worn Under Protest” sticker would complete it.

      • Lewis

        This thing would be great for a smoker. Full face protection while you burn that Camel. Reminds me of the story I heard about Barry Sheene, he drilled a small hole in his helmet so he could smoke while on the GP grid waiting for the start.

    • bvail

      I see you squids sometimes running down the road on their crotch rockets with a helmet dangling of the back of the bike. What’s that all about?

      • Jon Jones

        Wouldn’t know.

      • Born to Ride

        Maybe the squid has a girlfriend that likes to ride? How is that a challenging mental puzzle friend?

  • spiff

    Motorcycle gear is very helpful in times of “oh shit”. If I have to explain you probably wouldn’t understand.

    • Born to Ride

      Also very helpful when various kinds of road debris collides with you at highway speeds. Even if I lived in a helmet optional state, the thought of taking a wasp stinger or a loose chunk of pavement to the lip or cheekbone would still have me reaching for my Shoei every time.

      • Joe Smith

        Heck, rain hurts through my Teknic Supervent Pro jacket. I can’t imagine a rock or large bug, they hurt too, in just a plain shirt or against my bare head. Life is hard, it’s a lot harder if you’re stupid; I don’t know who to credit for that gem.

      • spiff

        Had a truck pick up a rock once. Hit my shield right between the eyes. It was atleast the size of a golf ball, and left a divot out of the shield.

  • spiff

    I have go to say the gimp helmet is just horrible.

    • BDan75

      Something about it reminds me of the headlights on the Honda CRF250L Rally…

    • Alaskan18724

      “The gimp’s sleepin’.”

      “Well, I guess we’ll just have to go wake him up, now, won’t we?”

  • Alaskan18724

    Rode without a helmet once. Felt delicious. Also hit a sand patch and fishtailed in panic-stricken fashion. Resolved: If it is too much trouble to put on gloves, boots, jacket, and helmet, it is too much trouble to go for a ride.

    • Born to Ride

      Used to ride my dirtbike all the friggin time without a helmet when I was a kid. It only took one instance of needing to pick all the dirt and rocks out of the palms of my hands to decide that gloves were mandatory equipment though.

  • John B.

    I do not agree the right for an individual to run their own life, as long as it does not direct harm to others is a fundamental tenet of our founding documents. That’s Libertarian gibberish.

    Rather, the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights define specifically the tenets of personal liberty fundamental to our representative democracy; namely, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, the right to bear arms, the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent, the right to a jury trial, the right to due process, the right to a speedy trial, the right to confront witnesses, the right to an attorney, and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail, among others.

    I don’t see anything in that list to indicate our “founding documents” contemplated protecting us from the tyranny of safety regulations. I wish libertarian leaning Republicans would not trivialize the freedoms that make this country great. Now wear your damn helmet!

    • Johnny Blue

      Not wearing a helmet and crashing may result in direct harm to others. Higher insurance premiums and health insurance premiums are two instances that immediately come to mind.

      • John B.

        Higher premiums would be an indirect harm. No?

        • Johnny Blue

          I guess you are right, but it feels pretty direct when it comes out of the pocket. But the what direct harm can not wearing a helmet cause to others?

          • John B.

            If you were riding two up with a close friend or loved one and died in a low speed crash because you were not wearing a helmet, that might be direct harm. Loss of companionship and all that.

            I am very sensitive to abrogation of personal freedom, but helmet laws don’t bother me at all.

          • Roger

            Good example. (abrogation. good word)

          • John B.

            Thank you. It’s refreshing to make an online comment, and not be called a moron or a white supremacist!

          • Alaskan18724

            Or an Englishman.

          • Daniel Benjamin

            “For once maybe someone will call me “sir” without adding “you’re making a scene.”” – Homer Simpson

          • FreeDominion

            Despite Roger’s comment, that’s actually a really bad example. How deep are we going to go when considering chains of affect to determine laws? Helmet laws are not, and will never be, based on ideas of harm and causality which are at best, an exercise in linguistic semantics. Comments that attempt to reason via semantics are pointless, and help neither side of the conversation.

          • Ian Parkes

            “Helmet laws are not, and will never be, based on ideas of harm and causality.” Wow, really? Just trying to work this out. It’s a twisted government plot obviously. To preserve morons? Possibly. Why? Because we need their votes! So ‘we’ must be Demo.. no hang on. Helmet law nutters won’t vote Democrat. So it’s a twisted govt plot by Republicans, forcing democrats to push through legislation to… I give up.

          • FreeDominion

            First, you’re misrepresenting what I wrote by not quoting the complete sentence. If you read the entire sentence, you’ll see that what I said is more specific than the misquote to which you responded. The rest of your post is complete nonsense, so I have no response to that mess.

      • Nedemeyer Muldoon

        small potatoes compared to obesity….

        • Lewis

          You are touching on a point that needs to be considered. I want to hear the squealing when the regulators come for all the unhealthy things we enjoy. Motorcyclists are a small number compared to the set of citizens who engage in all types of unhealthy behavior that increases costs. I have a bad diet, but I wear a helmet. All you actuaries out there deal with that.

        • Johnny Blue

          Absolutely true, but I didn’t think outside motorcycle issues.

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      • jeff benson

        That line of reasoning allows the govt to force you do do just about anything it can dream of in the name of public safety. Do you really want to go there?

        • Johnny Blue

          The problem is not the reasoning. It’s the government. It is a corrupt government (like all governments), so it’s likely to attempt to do so anyway. So we need to pick our battles. Helmets are good. Why fight against a good thing only because it seems contrary to a good principle? Want to fight the government? Fight against the laws allowing the food industry to sell poison as food and drug companies for selling deadly things they call medicine. Compared to these two, the helmet laws are insignificant. Let’s win the important fights first…
          Let’s fight to put in place proper governments which serve people’s interests first, not the interests of the ‘elite’. Then the helmet laws and others like this will sort themselves out.

    • bvail

      “I wish libertarian leaning Republicans would not trivialize the freedoms that make this country great. Now wear your damn helmet!’

      Scuze me! I am a small L Libertarian, card carrying member of JBS, and I always vote Republican but I also always wear a helmet. ATTGAT for me.

      • John B.

        Duly noted! I am, more or less, in your camp politically, and I too wear ATTGAT. I was referring to freshman Republican State Senator John Lowe (referenced in the article) who called a Nebraska bill to repeal Nebraska’s helmet law a “cause for freedom.” Fortunately, the bill failed by one vote to overcome a filibuster.

        https://tinyurl.com/yd8jhmvp

    • Starmag

      What if one of those safety regulations was that motorcycles themselves are too dangerous?

      “Now wear your damn helmet!” Pretty dictatorial John. Now get off that damn bike!

      Forcing others to do things is great for authoritarian types until it comes to their favorite thing.

      For perspective, I always wear a Shoei Neotec.

      • John B.

        All laws and regulations restrict a person’s freedom. That’s part of the bargain we make to live in a somewhat civilized society. The speed limit, seatbelt laws, prohibitions against drunk driving, murder, and rape, are but a few examples. Technically, such laws restrict a person’s freedom, but in the aggregate these laws allow us to more fully pursue personal liberty. For example, if murder were not illegal we would be “free” to kill other people, but our overall freedom would be diminished (especially if someone killed us first).

        In circumstances where society deems an activity ultra-hazardous, the activity may be banned altogether. BASE Jumping, dynamite detonations, handling radio active materials, precipitating a nuclear reaction are some examples. Motorcycling is NOT an ultra-hazardous activity (defined as any act that is so inherently dangerous that the person performing it can be held liable for injuries to other persons, even if they took every reasonable step to prevent the injury). As such, an outright ban would violate our cultural norms and unduly infringe on our personal liberty.

        Occasionally, government oversteps its bounds and tries to ban a popular activity such as drinking alcoholic beverages, and the people revolt. Safety laws are simply not among the fundamental freedoms required to maintain our personal liberty. People who think helmet laws unconstitutionally impose on our personal liberty are morons.

        I went through a Libertarian phase until I realized Libertarianism leads to a very dangerous society and widespread suffering.

        PS – I realize I lack the authority to require people to wear their helmets. I just wish they would stop with the personal liberty nonsense.

        • Starmag

          Thanks for the long thoughful reply John. “ultra-hazardous”, ” reasonable steps”, “cultural norms”, “unduly infringe” seem ambiguous and subject to interpretation. I agree that the criteria should be no victims. While I chose to wear a helmet, I still don’t see how not doing so creates victims from that action. If I make an error, as all do, I perfer to err on the side of your liberty. That “personal liberty nonsense” is the reason you lack the authority. Maybe we can agree to disagree.

          • John B.

            Sure, we can disagree. Reasonable people do that sometimes.

          • Born to Ride

            That ambiguity undoubtedly results in a myriad of interpretations on the subject that are going to be driven cultural and political leanings. That is evident in the fact that some states choose to legislate safety regulations and others do not. See John’s response to Sayyed for a concise explanation of that phenomenon.

          • Starmag

            Meh. Self-righteous slippery slope.

          • Ian Parkes

            No victims from failure to wear a helmet? How about the parents or the loved ones of a helmetless rider who bursts his melon? Or those that depended on his income, mortgage payments, or his output at work, or even his supply of drugs? Doesn’t a fatal accident cost a million or more in incidental costs? Emergency services, inquest, funeral, probate, debt resolution…

          • Starmag

            The same could be said about your decision to ride a motorcycle. Stop riding. Think of your family etc. Who draws the line? You? I’ll pass on that thanks. Not wearing a helmet causes no direct harm to others. All the secondary “victims” you mention are also true of motorcycle deaths where the rider is wearing a helmet. 35X more than a car. Stop riding a motorcycle. Think of your family. Not so good when the shoe is on the other foot is it?

          • Ian Parkes

            In individual cases what you say is true but it’s about percentages. There’s no doubt helmet laws save lives. It’s a sensible compromise. A lot of people seem to go for the slippery slope argument. If we let them make us wear helmets, next they’ll outlaw motorcycles. No they won’t, because that matters and the people wouldn’t stand for it.
            And for what it’s worth, I hit the deck hard once after losing the front in some melted tarseal. My helmet took a fearful whack. I cracked a rib but walked away and bought a new helmet. Secondary victims not grieving (or grief not put to the test) and costs all happily avoided.

          • Starmag

            Glad you were OK, but who decides the percentages? I always wear a helmet personally, but this subject always brings out the inner Stalin in people. Name calling and dictatorial orders imply an anger of not having one’s way. I shy away from telling others what to do unless it directly harms another. There’s loads of things with loads of direct victims, such as alcohol.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          “Occasionally, the government oversteps its bounds”. That is the crux of the problem: where to draw the line. At some point the government will overstep its bounds and has to be pushed back. How is keeping people from drinking overstepping its bounds and forcing people to wear helmets is not? More people die because of drinking than not wearing helmets.

          • John B.

            Simple. The power belongs to We The People. When the government passes laws a meaningful number of people don’t like, we demand those laws be repealed, or we vote those responsible out of office. Alcohol, tobacco products, and marijuana, among other things, cause terrible social ills, but the people demand these products, and politicians deny us what we want at their peril. The Founding Fathers were brilliant right?

          • Born to Ride

            You have made a lot of wise and poignant posts over the years, often with long paragraphs carefully crafted using classic argumentation methods. But this post completely encapsulates the spirit of what American governance should be, and it is four full sentences. Bravo

          • John B.

            Thank you for the kind words BTW

          • Sayyed Bashir

            No, I am sorry but you are wrong. Democracy is an illusion. Legislators are beholden to extremely strong lobbying groups, wealthy people and big corporations. The power to decide belongs to them, not to the people. Alcohol, tobacco and firearms are still there because of the strong interests behind them, regardless of how much harm they cause. Elections are gerrymandered to no end and someone least expected to win gets into office and turns everything upside down. How is this democracy?

          • John B.

            It’s NOT a perfect system, but that does not make our Republic an illusion. PEOPLE elect politicians to office, PEOPLE run lobbying groups, corporations can only act through People. Respectfully, it is you who is wrong; and cynical.

            PS – The strong have always, and will always dominate the weak. In this country, however, the weak have more rights than they have had in any civilization in history. We live in a great country!!!

          • major tom

            Is Sayyed Bashir a cynic or a nihilist? The former is acceptable, not so much the latter.

          • John B.

            I like Sayyed. We disagree on some things, but that doesn’t matter very much. I do not think he is a nihilist, but he can speak for himself.

        • Goose

          Just a repeat of the complements. ALL your post on this thread have been outstanding.

          • John B.

            Thank you! These subjects (e.g., government’s proper role in our Republic) have fascinated me for many years.

          • Goose

            I think that (government’s proper role in our Republic) is a major issue in our time, maybe it is always a major issue. I never cease be be amazed at people who don’t grasp that living in a society requires giving up some freedom. To people who want to be totally free of government restriction I suggest moving to Somalia or northern Pakistan to see what life is like without the chains of government restricting them and others.

          • John B.

            I agree with you.

          • major tom

            What!? I’ll pass on northern Pakistan or Somalia with Sharia law which has so many restrictions on liberty I couldn’t recount them all.

          • Goose

            You’re missing the point. Without a government the person with the most guns/ soldiers decides the rules. You get the local warlord’s law, whatever he may call it. You have no recourse, follow his law or die. Only he has the total freedom you are seeking. Without a government life is a pyramid, great at the pinnacle and pretty horrible anywhere else. You could die because he doesn’t like your face, wants your wife or property or is just bored and looking for something to amuse him for a few minutes.

        • major tom

          I’m curious being Libertarian inclined, especially since I agree with your reasoned arguments, how does Libertarianism lead to a very dangerous society with widespread suffering?

          • John B.

            With respect to drugs, Libertarians believe drugs should be legal with individuals free to decide whether, and how much, to use. Legalized drugs leads to increased use and misuse, which causes more addiction and accidental deaths and injuries, among other social ills.

            Similarly Libertarians oppose government regulation in most forms. Without safety regulations there are more injuries and deaths; i.e., more suffering.

            Isolationist views libertarians espouse allow despots around the world to abuse people, which also causes suffering. Libertarianism invariably gives people the freedom to choose, and many people make terrible choices that cause suffering.

        • Ian Parkes

          Glad to hear you are over your libertarian phase, John, and your first paragraph is a belter.

    • Roger

      Agree, even though I’m not a lawyer

    • major tom

      Well said as far as it goes, so where in the constitution or the bill of rights is the right to an abortion for example? I know it’s off topic but I couldn’t resist. Maybe it’s all just politics and what special interests can get away with?

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Should I ever break down and buy a small displacement scooter for local ‘errands’, I will wish I lived in a State that gave me the option of not wearing a helmet, but otherwise I am fine with the helmets I’ve had to don for 45 years. Hey my head is still intact and works well enough …

    • Johnny Blue

      It does? Then why your name starts with “Mad”??!! :)))

  • Sayyed Bashir

    In Alaska, only the passenger is required to wear a helmet. I picked up an unexpected passenger there in June and had to give her my helmet while I rode without one. It was fun. Wind through the hair and all that.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b5c39583b1bb331abe0fd16d98ae436bd27b090140eca241204c67eb6d1943d8.jpg

  • Mark D

    Death in a motorcycle crash due to a lack of helmet does NOT injure just the riding. The rider’s family is hurt. His or her employer is hurt. His or her community is injured by the sudden loss. The state or county incurs huge bills in performing an investigation. People traveling on the road are inconvenienced and stuck in traffic due to the crash and the mandatory investigation. And the local municipality might have to defend a costly wrongful death suit brought by the rider’s estate.

    Helmet prevent these injuries. The state has not only the right, but the responsibility to condition use of their public roads upon minimum safety gear standards.

    No man is an island, and anybody who think they are needs to pull their heads out of their Ayn-Rand-true-believer colons.

    • Keith T Robinson

      Then you shouldn’t ride at all.

      • Mark D

        If being required to take easy, common-sense safety precautions means that somebody should never engage in a potentially dangerous activity, then nobody should be allowed to drive, fly, ski, hike, bicycle, swim, have sex, eat, walk, or breathe.

  • DickRuble

    Whoever has to ask the question, definitely does not need to wear a helmet. There is an acute need for organs and it would be a pity to have them wasting on a body with such lousy brain. Again, if you have any doubts about wearing a helmet; don’t wear one. We need your lungs, kidneys, liver and corneas.

    • Born to Ride

      Corneas?

      • DickRuble

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornea

        The first thing harvested once you pass. Organ donor or not, the funeral home will take them and sell them. Most people have two of them, hence the plural.

        • Born to Ride

          Had no idea cornea transplant was a thing. Now I do. Thank you Ruble.

        • mugwump

          And while organs from us older folks aren’t useful, corneas still are.

        • Ian Parkes

          That should be “the first things”. Plural.

    • mikstr

      awesome reply

    • hartri55

      Fully agree. Anyone who rides a motorcycle without wearing a helmet is an IDIOT.

  • W Donald

    For me it is a no brainer , to me wearing a helmet is like breathing , I just do it automatically , and I only wear full face

    • DickRuble

      Thanks for sharing.. I am sure someone was dying to know what and how you do it.

      • BDan75

        As I’m sure someone was dying to hear your snarky reply.

  • TC

    Vacationed in Idaho and Montana two years ago and was surprised at the amount of Harley riders doing it au natural. It’s no more dangerous than smoking a pack a day, or eating junk food. Personally, if you are only going around town, at bicycle speeds, probably not too risky.

  • allworld

    I certainly don’t need a law requiring me to wear a helmet……….
    “John Lowe believes and argues, “Personal liberty and the right for an individual to run their own life, as long as it does not direct harm to others, is one of the fundamental tenets of our founding documents.””
    Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege not a right. As a senator you would think he would know that….
    The medical cost for volunteer of crash without helmets are absorbed by everyone, you would think as a senator he would know that….
    Nebraska should keep the law and dump their soap box idiot senator.
    The back door to require helmets is simple; require all motorcycles to carry insurance, insurance companies should then refuse to insure motorcyclist who don’t wear a hemet.

  • Chris

    Riding w/o a helmet is a totally different experience. It’s a true story. It is awesome…as long as nothing goes wrong. If only one could assure everything would go well and there would be no problems, I’d be a firm believer in not wearing a helmet. Ever! That, however, is NOT the real world. Case closed. There now, you have been so advised.

    • Gruf Rude

      Having collected an uncountable number of large bugs and three birds on the front of my full-face helmet, I can imagine that doing the same on the bare skin of my face would be “a totally different experience”. . .

      • Chris

        Yep, I’m at over 35 years and a half million miles (I’d reckon…). I’ve had my share of experience. As I said, if only you could assure there’d be no problems. Birds, large bugs, etc. to the face would be problems; relatively small problems in the light of possibilities. Hence, why I always wear my full-face while riding.

        • DickRuble

          A big fat crow hitting your face at 80mph is a relatively small problem?

          • Chris

            Yep, that’d suck, all right. And a crow is a nice extreme example of a bird in the face. But let’s not forget, I threw in the “…in the light of possibilities” part. As much as it’d surely suck, the crow ain’t the worst thing that could happen. More importantly, I’m not sure what you’re arguing. I made it pretty clear I’m an always-wear-it-when-I-ride full-face helmet kind of guy. I just pointed out: If you could assure nothing would happen, I’d gladly wear no helmet. It’s a great feeling. That, however, is just not the real world. So, again, I’m not sure where the disconnect is…In any event, Onward!

          • Born to Ride

            A hummingbird to the dome piece at freeway speed would probably still be traumatic enough to cause an accident. Issac Newton had a proof for that in Principia I think…

          • Chris

            …which, just like the previous, doesn’t change my point.

          • Born to Ride

            Nut up buttercup, this is a man’s sport.

      • Born to Ride

        I have had to replace heavily chipped face shields on two of my helmets that I used for commuting. The face of my helmet is constantly getting hit with projectiles at high velocity. I have no need to know what that feels like on my bare skin.

  • Chris

    All joking aside, to each his own. A lot of folks don’t understand riding a motorcycle in the first place. It’s an unnecessary risk, after all (For the huge majority.). It’s a slippery slope…

    • StripleStrom

      This is a great point to consider. Who is to say that the lawmakers won’t decide that motorcycles are an unnecessary risk and should not be allowed? Where does the nanny state end and personal choice and liberty begin? I think it has to end where nobody else is directly affected by the choice being made. And I mean that as literally as possible. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.

      • Keith T Robinson

        Exactly!

      • Sayyed Bashir

        You are right, but the statement “where nobody else is directly affected by the choice being made” is not correct. There is never a case where nobody else is affected when you are injured or die.

        • DickRuble

          Don’t try to use logic. You know you hate it. It’s only meant for computer education (according to you).

          • Born to Ride

            That post was strangely out of character wasn’t it? lol

        • StripleStrom

          Ok, let’s rephrase that to… “where nobody’s constitutional rights are affected by the choice being made”.

        • jeff benson

          Absolutely. So the govt is therefore justified to do whatever it deems fit to keep you from hurting yourself. CS Lewis comes to mind.

      • John B.

        WE THE PEOPLE say; that’s who! If lawmakers did not care about what citizens think, we would have Social Security and Medicare reform, among other things.

        Lawmakers pass whatever laws they want to pass, and then the judiciary decides constitutionality and the people give a thumbs up or down at the ballot box. Many ridiculous laws pass every year; some even endure, but he people have the exclusive power to vote in U.S. elections. That’s how helmet laws, among other laws, get passed, and later, repealed.

        Lawmakers could make motorcycles illegal, and then we motorcyclists, and other right-minded people, could vote them out of office, and lobby to get that law repealed.

  • Michael Paul

    As a proponent of natural selection I would be against the requirement to wear a helmet; except for the costs to everyone else still alive. In my opinion those costs outweigh the benefits of those people no longer living. If you want to die, just go see Dr. K. do it clean and easy without the costs to the rest of us.

  • Nedemeyer Muldoon

    Helmets, that great illusion of safety! For you safety gear nazis out there…extrapolating this out…the ONLY safe way to motorcycle is NOT TO MOTORCYCLE! morons.

  • Vrooom

    I just don’t see myself ever choosing to not wear a helmet, so it’s hard to understand the other point of view. We don’t have the freedom to do lot’s of things, drive without a seatbelt, yell fire in a crowded theater, bungee jump from some bridges. Not because the sponsors of those laws hate freedom either.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Choosing to wear a helmet is different than being forced to wear a helmet.

      • mikstr

        Correct: choosing not to wear a helmet is admitting to the world that you are a moron.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          And how is that a problem for you?

          • mikstr

            I am allergic to morons and people who do moronic things. I feel the same way about any behaviour that is forcibly self-destructive. However, I am willing to see the bright side, namely the increase in the number of donor organs. Call it the silver lining on a cloud of idiocy.

            See, I am not entirely against people doing it, for it helps to “thin the herd” and remove the more mentally deficient elements from the gene pool. I just can`t wrap my head around why any sane person would do it.

  • Vrooom

    I believe I first read this on MO, but could be wrong. I always wear a helmet, so let me get that out of the way. What do you all think about reducing the helmet standards somewhat in states that don’t have helmet laws so that they are required, but something closer to a bicycle helmet meets the criteria. You get the wind in your hair, sort of, and most of the face and neck are uncovered, but there is some critical protection. Discuss amongst yourselves…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      If it is a motorcycle helmet, it has to meet certain standards otherwise why even wear one? The major issue with helmet laws is not just wearing or not wearing a helmet but the government telling people what to do which gets us closer to totalitarianism (a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state) and away from democracy (a system of government by the whole population through elected representatives). America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. Freedom of choice. Cigarettes have not been outlawed yet even though they kill a lot more people than not wearing helmets. KFC and McDonald’s are still in business even though a lot more people die of obesity and heart attacks than not wearing helmets. As I said, freedom of choice.

      • StripleStrom

        The whole reason for this discussion is due to government intervention.
        Once there is welfare and government-funded medical care, the door is open to police any activity that might have a cost to society. There is a political war in this country between those who think they have the right to use government to enforce their viewpoint and agenda, and those that believe in keeping government intervention to a minimum. You can believe in the rule of law (which are MORAL laws, founded on the moral principle of the value of human life; murder and other acts of violence being prime examples of necessity) and still not believe that government has any place beyond that. The constitution was written to declare these fundamental rights, based on the idea that we are born free and with inherent value as people. Unfortunately, the law has been manipulated as a means of control and power by politicians and politically motivated judges overstepping their bounds for decades. When you start down the road of government going outside of these basic principles, you enter this gray area and endless debate will follow. The genius of the constitution was in it’s simplicity. We really need to get back to that as much as possible. You can be concerned for your neighbor and voice your opinion, but in the end it’s still his or her right to do as they wish.

        • TriumphRider87

          “…due to government intervention.”

          just one question: who paid for the road?

          • Lewis

            Taxpayers

          • StripleStrom

            We, the taxpayers, did.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Well said.

        • Ian Parkes

          I’m beginning to wonder if the Constitution causes more problems than it’s worth. Countries without one have just as much freedom, if not more (citizens much less likely to be shot for one thing) and they are also enjoy considerably more freedom from tedious libertarian tirades.

  • HazardtoMyself

    I do believe it is the individuals choice. I will not ride without a helmet, but let those who don’t want to wear one ride the way they want. There have to be a few provisions though.

    If a non helmented rider is injured or killed, neither the rider nor their family may collect government assistance for any kind.

    Insurance companies are under no obligation to provide medical, property or life insurance related compensation to the rider or the riders family.

    Hospitals are under no obligation to provide care unless the rider or their family can prove the ability to pay all costs without insurance. If the rider dies within this time frame the hospital is immune from wrongful death suits.

    If during the course of the crash investigation it is reasonably found the rider could have escaped serious injury with a helmet, the rider or the riders family is responsible for all first responder and related costs. Everything they own is up for grabs, home, cars, etc.

    I am sure there are other expenses I can’t think of off the top of my still partially intact head. Go ahead, ride without a helmet if you choose, but nobody is going to take care of you or your family if you can’t pay for it out pocket.

    Since the trend however is people not taking responsibility for their own actions, this will never happen. Keep the helmet laws in place.

  • Ghost

    I wrote about this ages ago and my opinion on it hasn’t changed much:
    https://www.ghostcruises.org/philosophy/helmets-and-helmet-laws/

  • John Thepiratecaptain

    I agree that everyone SHOULD wear a helmet, but I respect the choice of individuals who don’t want to wear one also. When a government body thinks it has a mandate to do whatever it wants in the name of “safety”, then all kinds of behaviour suddenly become viable in order to control to silly civilians who don’t know what’s best for them.

    Stick to making roads and building bridges politicians, and let’s make our choices, dumb or otherwise, in peace.

  • AlinPhilly

    Is it idiotic to ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Absolutely. But it really only jeopardizes the rider. Besides it reduces the healthcare costs if there is an accident: a helmetless rider is far more likely to die immediately in a crash than somebody who wears a helmet. I only wish that states would consider riding without a helmet an act of defacto consent to being an organ donor in the event of a crash; instantaneous deaths, like those from brain injury, make for excellent organ donors.

    • John B.

      GO EAGLES!

    • jeff benson

      Actually in high speed crashes the body trauma is often as fatal as the head injury. They process plenty of rider corpses with perfectly protected heads.

      • AlinPhilly

        I wholly agree about the understated danger of body trauma. That’s why I’m one of those “All-The-Gear-All-The-Time” guys. I’ve been riding for nearly 50 years now and am, obviously, still alive. But virtually every state which has eliminated helmet laws has seen huge jumps in motorcyclist deaths. Wearing a helmet doesn’t eliminate the risk of death, it just reduces the likelihood that a crash will be a fatal one. In the same vein, being covered head to toe in protective gear won’t eliminate the risk of getting killed due to body trauma, but it will reduce the likelihood of that occurring in a crash.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          So not wearing helmets is the philanthropic thing to do. Saving other people’s lives by giving up your own, and having fun while doing it.

      • mikstr

        good point, so to Hell with helmets…

        who’s up for some Russian Roulette?

  • TenaciousTom

    I wear a full face helmet every time I ride. My first trip home from work on my dangerous new toy I was riding the back roads for the scenery. As I cruised down this country road, a bumble bee the size of a quarter smacked right off my visor at 40 mph. I thought to myself how much it would have sucked to have taken it directly to the face. Since then, rocks and a whole manner of other objects that would have been extremely painful to take to the face have bounced off my helmet. From this standpoint alone I cannot understand why ANYONE would want to ride without a helmet. I also have a wife and kids to come home to who probably don’t want a dead/vegitable father/husband. So there’s that.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Yes, we need the government to force everyone to wear a helmet because no one would do it otherwise.

  • Auphliam

    Ah yes, it’s time for the annual ATGATT ritual circle jerk. Let us all line up now to hurl insults and proclaim our superiority above all those who don’t behave like us.

    • mugwump

      Well it does increase the clicks, good for advertising.

  • Keith T Robinson

    The arguement getting killed on a mc is costing the public has been proven to be nonsense. And atgatt just plain sucks. Putting on all that crap is great for the gear industry. Loud pipes help avoid accidents . You folks are talking about crashing . Whst your saying is motorcycles are inherently dangerous and should lead to being banned. Why don’t you self righteous gear fascists take care of yourselves and leave the rest of us alone? The government needs to stay out of my dress code . You scoff laws that routinely break speed limits and then rant on helmets are bigoted fascists. SPEED KILLS!

    • Mark D

      lol this guy ranting about how the government shouldn’t tell us how to minimize our risk but than we all need to follow the speed limit at all times. Do you not see the inherent inconsistencies in your argument?

  • Douglas Stracener

    As an attorney, law enforcement officer, and and motorcycle safety instructor, I see way too many survivable crashes end up as fatality accidents simply because of brain injury that a helmet would have probably prevented. Half helmets (a/k/a Brain Buckets) are useless when you look at the facial injuries that occur. All our instructors are ATGATT and wear either full face or modular helmets when on the road. No 3/4 or 1/2 helmets at all.

    That said, people have a right to be stupid. Stupid keeps attorneys and police in business.

    • Mark D

      Random question, but are you a practicing attorney AND a police officer? That seems like a hard thing to do at the same time.

  • Butch Schultz

    Self Cleaning Oven.
    Or as the old blues song goes : “you gotta a 50 dollar wig on a 5 dollar head”

  • JB111

    Brent Jaswinski- Really desperate for an article huh? You and most of these people commenting, don’t give a crap about other riders. So why so much belly aching? Do you even know where Nebraska is? Are you really that naive to think that if the law was changed that everyone would suddenly throw their helmets away and ride without them? And do not tell us how its unfair that you may be affected through higher insurance premiums. Distracted drivers, squids on crotch rockets going too fast, moto-journalists doing burnouts and wheelies to get that cover shot because they just have to post something to stay relevant, greedy insurance companies, and many other things raise premiums. I cant believe how entitled people have become. Because you dislike the fact people do not wear helmets in a different state, the entire United States has to bend to your will and make them mandatory?

    • Johnny Blue

      YOU don’t give a crap about other riders!

    • Brent Jaswinski

      No, not desperate. Just reporting on a current event in the world of motorcycling is all. I thought I made it pretty clear that I support the “live and let live” mantra. If you, or whoever chooses not to wear a helmet, that’s fine by me. I won’t tell you to put one on. I’m not trying to convince anyone that they should wear a helmet, the potential result of not wearing one speaks for itself. Fortunately, most people have sense to wear one regardless of what the law says.

      And Nebraska, that’s an island next to Hawaii right?
      For the record, I lived in Omaha.

      Have a nice day, dawg.

  • Kevin Polito

    Until they come up with a prosthetic head, I’ll continue to wear a helmet. I have lost friends who would have survived a crash if they had been wearing a helmet, and I have a friend who lost traction and went down, with no major injuries except broken facial bones and brain damage, because he was wearing a beanie helmet that provided no protection.

  • DeadArmadillo

    Shut up already. If someone doesn’t want to wear a helmet leave them alone. There are more pedestrians killed than motorcyclists. Maybe everyone walking should wear a helmet. How about rubber floors so nobody would get hurt if they trip and fall. Safety nerds have become so powerful in the nanny state that soon we won’t be allowed to get out of bed. Shit happens, you’re going to die. Deal with it.

    • jeff benson

      One of the most dangerous devices ever invented is a bath tub.

  • mikstr

    Legal obligation aside, anyone who rides a motorcycle without a helmet is proving that he/she has nothing to protect; Darwin was onto something…

    • Ian Parkes

      That’s certainly one way to change your mind – rub it on some chipseal.

      • mikstr

        seems some aren’t bright enough to figure it out on their own…

  • hasty hughie

    In certain states there are enough voters who through the democratic process elect to say, it is my head and I have a right to let my freak flag fly even on a motorcycle. In contrast, I live in B.C, Canada with public health care, public roads and public insurance etc which has voters electing regulations that say safety is about all of us, so wear that helmet, even on your bicycle. How rights serve the individual vs how the individual serves rights is a cultural and philosophical debate that has real applications and applies to a large number of issues beyond helmets. Good luck sorting that one out, but in the meantime, I wear my helmet. Although, some say that they have seen me at times not wearing my bicycle helmet…..no easy answers for society or individuals, eh?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The government decides what is good for you because they believe you are incapable of making an intelligent decision by yourself. Laws are made for the lowest common denominator and enforced on all. Insurance companies also have a strong lobby to influence legislators. They want to minimize their losses and maximize their profits, regardless of the burden they put on every citizen. I have never heard of insurance rates coming down every time a new safety law is passed, so where are the savings going?

    • Eric Straordinary

      Another wrinkle to add is the religious freedom of those who prefer to wear turbans instead of helmets.

  • kenneth_moore

    “And I say to them: Personal liberty and the right for an individual to run their own life, as long as it does not direct harm to others, is one of the fundamental tenets of our founding documents.”

    Therefore, our state will no longer require the use of seat belts in automobiles. This newfound freedom to easily move about the car unconstrained will allow drivers to more fully enjoy their travel here.

  • mugwump

    When do we get to lace up boots and open primaries? I don’t care what you do, but if you could do something to facilitate getting around your memorial processions on public roads, yeah that would be nice.

  • MyName

    A family friend of mine wears a minimalist “helmet” in my helmet mandatory state of Oregon. His argument is he would rather be dead than a vegetable. Sure, that makes sense…. but THOSE AREN’T THE ONLY TWO OPTIONS! Smashing your head and NOT getting hurt is also an option with a quality full face helmet.

  • FreeDominion

    I and my wife will always wear helmets, but the last thing we need is a government that continues sticking its far-too-long fingers even further into our lives. We don’t need a parental government. The right to endanger yourself is not ‘libertarian gibberish’ as John B. posted, nor is it a right protected by the bill of rights, which he tries to argue against, for no reason. It is simply an action the government doesn’t have a legitimate right to take from you. If a person wants to endanger their own life, so what? It is perfectly legal (despite what most people incorrectly think), to kill one’s self, although police will always find ways to bring other nonsense charges against you if you fail. So why should it be illegal to put yourself (and only yourself) in danger?

    There should be helmet laws for persons under 18 to protect them from irresponsible parents, but 18 and older, it should be one’s own choice. If 18 is old enough for someone to volunteer to kill and die for this country, it should be old enough to ride a motorcycle without a helmet if one so chooses.

    Those who think we should have laws to keep us from putting ourselves in greater danger, why aren’t you fighting to have doctors and nurses fired on the spot for not washing their hands thoroughly? This simple little action causes (estimates vary) between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths, per year. Far, FAR more than deaths from motorcyclists not wearing helmets, and these are medical personnel directly putting other people in danger (not some indirect ‘if you squint and tilt your head, it might make sense’, twice-removed sense of ‘harm’ to others.

    Not wearing a helmet is more dangerous to our continued existence than riding with a helmet, so state governments mandate we wear helmets, and people support it (even though they personally would still wear a helmet without the law). Other people not wearing helmets does not affect the ones who do wear helmets at all (the insurance rate argument is a non-starter, given the algorithms that determine insurance rates, and the very low number of people who die due to not wearing a helmet. The difference is literally pennies), so I can only conclude that these people just want to have something over others (you do what we want you to do because.. um.. my political party said so and we’re always right, and everyone else’s point of view is gibberish!).

    So what’s next? Riding a motorcycle is more dangerous to our continued existence than driving a car (factual statistic), so let us outlaw motorcycles. Driving a car at 60 mph is more dangerous to our continued existence than driving at 15 mph, so let us pass a law requiring manufacturers to limit all vehicle speeds to 15 mph.. and everyone must wear bubble wrap.. all the time.. because we’re going to protect you from yourselves, or else! Amen.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Brent, you hit a home run with this one. Welcome to the club!

  • SteveSweetz

    What I think is unfortunate is that people who don’t wear helmets seem to say they’re ok with dying if something happens. Sure I can see that, but dying is hardly the only thing a helmet prevents and not wearing one isn’t a guaranteed death in the even of a crash.

    I high sided off my bike at around 40mph and slid on my front instead of my back. That impact would likely not have been hard to enough to kill me even without a helmet. However, the entire front of my helmet and face shield looked like someone had taken a belt sander to it for a goooood chunk of time. I figure it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t have much of a nose or chin left had I not been wearing helmet.

    Having to live the remainder of my life with a permanent facial disfigurement or brain damage scares me far more than dying.

  • Stanislaw Zolczynski

    There was time when in some italian cities it was forbidden to wear full helmet due to mafia drive-by shootings

  • Every motorbike rider should wear the Helmet to avoid serious injuries in case of an accident.

  • Joe DeBiasi

    Stupid is as stupid does- Forrest Gump

  • Mike Morrill

    I’ve been riding all types of street bikes for nearly 40 years now. I’d always worn a helmet until a couple of years ago. I was living in Albuquerque and when riding my Street Glide usually did not wear a helmet. It FELT great, even when the bugs hit my face. On my R1200R at higher speeds and more exposed to the wind I wore a helmet. I enjoyed riding in both situations for different reasons. The main reason I ride is because it feels fantastic. Riding without a helmet was just a different kind of experience. Living in CA now…back to full time helmeting…but it’s always great to ride.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      On sportbikes a helmet is a must because of the higher speed, canyon carving or track days and greater possibility of going down (especially for squids). On Harleys it should be voluntary because of the lower speeds, heavier more stable machines with wider tires, lower center of gravity and mature, more experienced riders.

  • edbob

    Definitely wear a helmet. Should it be law? No. Freedom is better. Definitely make sure those who are getting a license understand why a helmet is important when you fall, even if that includes video/photo evidence

  • The discussion I think is whether or not you wear a helmet if they aren’t mandatory not whether or not you hurt less if you hit your head while wearing one. In the absence of a national health service plan funded by all, I don’t see much of an argument in favor of mandatory helmets (or seat belts). Where a public health service offers free care at point of need there is a different logic. So if every industrialized nation on the planet offers affordable national health care they then should have mandatory safety requirements. In the US, why bother?

    • Gruf Rude

      Because Emergency Rooms can’t turn you away and for these situations we do, in effect, have a public health service.

      • Thank you for considering my point. However a national health service offers treatment and care beyond anything you, as a Free Market American can imagine, without charge to the patient. Not just emergency room care. Long term trauma caused by say a head injury would be totally covered as well. Without charge at the point of need.

        • Gruf Rude

          I’m well aware of the differences and wish the USA would get over its religious belief in Free Market Magic.
          None the less, my point was that even here in the US, where Emergency Rooms provide uncompensated service, there is an argument for mandatory helmet use. Uncompensated ER services are in fact a ‘big deal’ as many small rural hospitals in my part of the US have folded under the strain, unable to absorb the costs, particularly in states which refused to expand Medicaid.

  • mikstr

    One thing eludes me: of all the rights and things to fight for in a democracy, why is it some are so bent on prioritizing the “right” to die with your brain splattered all over the road… seems to be a perfect mix of demagoguery and insanity…

    Carry on…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      It is something sportbike riders keep trying to impose on Harley riders even though the two types of bikes, riders and riding styles are completely different. Harley riders are not refusing to wear helmets. They are just saying that the government has no right to force people to wear a helmet. Helmet wearing should be voluntary. The purpose of helmet laws is to force the young whipper snappers on brand new sportbikes to wear helmets. Their brains are the ones being spattered on the pavement. Why should experienced and mature riders on slow, heavy and stable motorcycles be burdened with another government law because of immature and irresponsible crotch rocket racers? There are a lot fewer Harley crashes despite millions of them on the road so let them ride however they want to. The government does not have to intervene in every part of our lives.

      • mikstr

        I didn`t realise that riding a Harley made you immune to accidents…

        • Sayyed Bashir

          No, as long as you wear a helmet, why do you care what everybody else does?

          • mikstr

            You`re confusing my expressing my opinion with caring (not so in this case, though I do feel for the families of morons who choose to engage in such practices). My concern is more academic in nature, you know, trying to understand why anyone would do something so blatantly stupid. Why stop there? why not take up chainsaw juggling? skydiving without a parachute? sky`s the limit for the insane and suicidal…

          • mikstr

            just curious as to why you are so bent on defending such a stupid practice as riding without a helmet? And don`t give me this whole rights crap, it`s a red herring.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I am curious as to why you are so bent on forcing this on everyone. Why not let them do what they want and you do what you want?

          • mikstr

            who said anything about forcing it? Please find where I said anything about forcing it on anyone. Live and let live, and if you have nothing to live for (or are not smart enough to foresse the consequences), ride without a helmet… and succumb to your own stupidity. Let me repeat, for the umpteenth time, only a moron (or a libertarian zealot out to prove a point, at his own peril may I add) rides without a helmet; those who are not morons will not wait for the government to impose it.

            Now, do you need a drawing or is that clear enough for you?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I am not defending the practice. I just don’t want the government to be involved in forcing it on everyone. This will be the first small step to motorcycle obsolescence. The next thing will be that there are still too many motorcycle deaths so all over 1000cc sportbikes should be banned because despite helmets people are still dying. Next it will be any motorcycles over 100 hp. And so on. As I said elsewhere, death by a thousand cuts. The NRA is smart because it doesn’t let the government take that first small step. First assault rifles will be banned. Then large capacity magazines. And so on until the only guns you can buy will be BB guns.

          • mikstr

            gotcha, and thanks; your line of reasoning makes sense, if a bit bordering on paranoia (though not entirely unjustified). Now, that being said, I maintain that anyone riding without a helmet (a full-face for that matter) is an idiot. Doing so on supposed principle (ie. to “push back against The Man”) is, IMO, akin to taking up smoking based strictly on the principle of needing maintaining the right to do so… fatalistic and unbelievably short-sighted.

            cheers

  • AdolphOliverMuff
    • Sayyed Bashir

      At least he gave his life for what he believed in: Freedom from The Man. “The Man” is a slang phrase that may refer to the government or to some other authority in a position of power (Wikipedia).

    • mikstr

      priceless. Seeing as how the article describes him as fishtailing, once can somewhat assume he did the cruiser rider thing and nailed the rear brake… no helmet, no riding skills… Another one for Darwin…

  • if you want to protect yourself you better wear a helmet.

  • Douglas

    That ol’ boy on the Harley needs to learn how to relax….good grief!