Why Not Wear a Helmet?

With the recent string of posts regarding motorcycle accidents, safety, and fatalities, I thought perhaps I would break my lurking silence.I live in Oregon, where helmets are mandatory, but before I rode, that requisite always seemed redundant. Of course, I thought, motorcyclists would always wear helmets.

Having travelled in the past year to three states which did not have helmet laws, I was absolutely appalled by the number of cyclists who did not wear helmets! I'm going to make a rough estimate that two-thirds of riders in warm climates (hawaii in this case) did not wear helmets; the majority of those whom I did see with helmets were sportbike riders. Perhaps they don't feel a repli-racer helmet crimps their style?

I'm sure we all have these stories, but mine drove the point home resoundingly for me. Last year, weeks before buying my first bike, driving my cage behind my friend, I witnessed my first motorcycle accident. It was a pleasant evening, still light out, and my 30-something friend was a 15-year veteran of motorcycling. But we all make mistakes, even him. He downshifted in a corner, hard, on his CBR900RR. I saw him tail out, remember thinking "please pull out of this, get it together." I watched as his rear wheel slid into the curb, wactched the bike flip over and eject him from it, headfirst. Even before the shock that -- this is real -- sunk in, the headfirst, airborne man hit a telephone pole.

He still has the ruined Arai RX7-RR4, cresol stain directly in the center of its forehead, shattered faceplate, small bloodstains still inside from where he bit his tongue, hard.

Most importantly, he is alive. He can still walk. His 2 little children still have a father.

Sure, he broke his arm in 7 places, cracked his hip, had to have a piece of his kidney and instestine removed from interal bleeding. But he's okay.



Every day I pass that spot. Every day now, I imagine what could have happened without that helmet. Would it have been painful? When I removed his cell phone from his pack to call his wife, what would I have said if I could not say "he'll be fine?"

So again I marvel at those who don't wear their helmets. So it's to you -- anyone out there who doesn't -- why, oh why? Someone help me out here; is it just too hot and uncomfortable for you? Do you guys think the full-faced helmets are ugly?

As an aside, half-helmeters, I'm talking to you, too. I can't think if this guy were wearing a little pot-helm his FACE would have even been vaguely intact. I went down myself, too, in my early weeks of motorcycle ownership; a simple thing, a wet manhole cover which bouced as I rode over it. I was uninjured, but my own Arai has a set of deep gouges from the asphalt on the side of the chin area, running up to the ear. Ouch. That would have been my jaw. I happen to like my face well enough.

I live in Oregon, where helmets are mandatory, but before I rode, that requisite always seemed redundant. Of course, I thought, motorcyclists would always wear helmets.

Having travelled in the past year to three states which did not have helmet laws, I was absolutely appalled by the number of cyclists who did not wear helmets! I'm going to make a rough estimate that two-thirds of riders in warm climates (hawaii in this case) did not wear helmets; the majority of those whom I did see with helmets were sportbike riders. Perhaps they don't feel a repli-racer helmet crimps their style?

I'm sure we all have these stories, but mine drove the point home resoundingly for me. Last year, weeks before buying my first bike, driving my cage behind my friend, I witnessed my first motorcycle accident. It was a pleasant evening, still light out, and my 30-something friend was a 15-year veteran of motorcycling. But we all make mistakes, even him. He downshifted in a corner, hard, on his CBR900RR. I saw him tail out, remember thinking "please pull out of this, get it together." I watched as his rear wheel slid into the curb, wactched the bike flip over and eject him from it, headfirst. Even before the shock that -- this is real -- sunk in, the headfirst, airborne man hit a telephone pole.

He still has the ruined Arai RX7-RR4, cresol stain directly in the center of its forehead, shattered faceplate, small bloodstains still inside from where he bit his tongue, hard.

Most importantly, he is alive. He can still walk. His 2 little children still have a father.

Sure, he broke his arm in 7 places, cracked his hip, had to have a piece of his kidney and instestine removed from interal bleeding. But he's okay.

Every day I pass that spot. Every day now, I imagine what could have happened without that helmet. Would it have been painful? When I removed his cell phone from his pack to call his wife, what would I have said if I could not say "he'll be fine?"

So again I marvel at those who don't wear their helmets. So it's to you -- anyone out there who doesn't -- why, oh why? Someone help me out here; is it just too hot and uncomfortable for you? Do you guys think the full-faced helmets are ugly?

As an aside, half-helmeters, I'm talking to you, too. I can't think if this guy were wearing a little pot-helm his FACE would have even been vaguely intact. I went down myself, too, in my early weeks of motorcycle ownership; a simple thing, a wet manhole cover which bouced as I rode over it. I was uninjured, but my own Arai has a set of deep gouges from the asphalt on the side of the chin area, running up to the ear. Ouch. That would have been my jaw. I happen to like my face well enough.

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George Obradovich
George Obradovich

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