To Wear a Helmet, or Not to Wear a Helmet?

Brent Jaswinski
by Brent Jaswinski

That is the question... Even Harry and Lloyd had enough sense to wear helmets.

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…

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…

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.

Brent Jaswinski
Brent Jaswinski

More by Brent Jaswinski

Join the conversation
2 of 179 comments
  • Randy Knapp Randy Knapp on Jan 29, 2018

    Helmet on or not contact with a car truck or 18 wheeler the one on the motorcycle is the loser. I used to ride with or without and I still ride during hunting season without dispite the regs in my state. Once I get to my hunting area my helmet goes in my pack. I see others in my hunting area riding quads and bikes and laugh at them because i know darned well that they have no chance of getting an animal because unless it is a half helmet you can not hold your firearm or bow correctly. That helmet does do one thing it keeps you head mostly intact to make identification of what is left of you after a highspeed impact easier. I broke my back the first time 40 years ago while hill climbing with a helmet on. It was a low speed impact with me sliding 150 feet back down the hill with my bike on top of me hanging up on rocks as I went. That day I would have died if I had not been wearing my helmet.

  • Mick kay Mick kay on Feb 18, 2018

    It's certainly a good way to clean the gene pool. The only argument I can see is who foots the bill for taking care of all the brain injuries who manage to survive? It's tempting to ride in shorts and no helmet on a hot day. Not so much if you've ever bounced your melon off the pavement while wearing a helmet. Ask me why I gave up being an EMT years ago. Traumatic head injuries suck. Especially preventable ones. Rock-on!