Come one, come all. Let's have a debate.
In the year 2009, there were 4,462 fatalities on motorcycles (per NTSB and NHTSA numbers).
Of this 4,462 fatalities, the claim levied is that 732 people could have been saved had they been wearing a helmet. I don't dispute this, but it is a hypothesis, and not based in fact. There could also have been many variables to the contrary, but we will never know.
This means that, 3,730 people died on United States highways and roadways...you guessed it...WEARING A HELMET.
So...732 people died not wearing one. 3,730 people died wearing one. Seems lopsided to me. Most experts agree that this could be due to an increased sense of 'confidence' in the rider. Even the alternative proposed by the riders groups is flawed, as more 'trained' riders crash and die than non-trained riders. They believe it's due to the same increased 'confidence' bestowed in individuals who have participated in a safety training course. Who are we to argue with "experts", right?
(Keep in mind that the very brand we all here know and love, Kawasaki (as well as Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, BMW ect.), pumps millions of dollars in lobbying money to maintain the very right I chose to exercise, and that's the choice of whether or not I wear a helmet.)
Perhaps this is why of the 47 states 50 years ago with mandatory helmet laws, only 19 still have them. And most states now have youth-only helmet laws. After all, do we not elect officials into office who are supposed to act upon our best interests and the greater good of the people? Why then do these same legislative bodies repeal these helmet laws, despite public opposition? In Michigan, 80% of the population opposed repeal of their helmet law, yet it was still repealed. The hard numbers speak for themselves, both statistical and monetary. Perhaps they are tired of losing tourism money, or paying LEO's to hold everyone's hand instead of chasing real criminals. Who knows why they made that decision. Only those in that body of elected officials know why they made the choice to vote as they did. Any ideas are speculation at best.
It can be levied that the medical costs incurred by injured riders (helmeted or not) of $1.3 billion in 2009 is a burden placed on society and Joe Taxpayer (I, btw, carry and pay for my own medical insurance). Dead riders cost us nothing more than whatever it costs a doctor to pronounce them dead. I put this challenge out there. Contrast this with FREE health care, footed by the very same taxpayers, of $2.5 Billion for non-citizen health care. Now, this figure is only for those on "Refugee" status. This does not count the millions of illegal immigrants who place an additional burden on our health care system. This cost is estimated to be far higher than both motorcycle injuries and refugees combined. $10.7 billion annually.
All of these numbers are dwarfed by the annual cost of welfare in this country. $1.03 TRILLION annually. How many of these individuals are able bodied, yet put a drain on society? If you ask me, to argue that someone who survives a motorcycle accident without a helmet (or with in some situations) is a "drain on society" for the rest of their life, (as argued by many over the years) is ignorant at best. The numbers don't lie.
Some have gone so far as to argue the what if's of drunk driving, and making the comparison to helmet-less riding being "equally senseless". To make this comparison simply shows just how ignorant those with this opinion really are. They are 2 completely different situations. Drunken driving is stupid. Your ability to operate a vehicle in this condition is severely inhibited. This can not be said for riding without a helmet. If anything, you are more alert without a helmet, as you can hear more of what's going on around you than you ever could with one on. This can be considered an improvement in your ability, not a degradation. Some could say wind noise, road debris and insect impacts can have an equal effect at distraction, but they really don't (barring any unforeseen situations or incidents that can and do arise), and anyone who rides without a helmet knows this (and, btw, most riders I encounter here in the Twin Cities usually have their helmet either hanging from the helmet hook under the pillion (sport bike riders) or left at home...they far outnumber those who ride with them, in town. Most only wear them on the highways...or so I have seen anyways). There are a few groups who ride fully geared, all the time, and I know a few folks in these groups. They are few and far between. These individuals do NOT get on anyone's case for their preference. They even ride with folks who don't wear them, just the same. After all, it's all about the freedom of the road, not how you chose to enjoy it, to them.
Now, since we are talking legislation, lets lump "gun control" into these numbers. This is another hot debate, as evidenced here in a few threads. It is a Constitutional right to own and bear arms. A right that people are trying to infringe upon, that in of itself costs our health care system approx $3.7 billion dollars annually. This is for non-fatal gunshot injuries. Instead of proposing inner city educational systems and "big brother" type youth programs, people are trying to remove a Constitutional right from the Bill of Rights. Instead of working to keep youth off the streets, they want to make it harder for responsible people to maintain a fundamental right of our democracy.
We can factor in seat belts. Sure, nobody argues that they save lives. The statistical numbers have proven these to be effective, in that traffic fatalities in automobiles is at an all-time low in this nation. I myself don't wear mine. Personal preference, even tho it has become a primary law in my state (Minnesota). I deactivate my airbags in my cars as well. These items, without question, have the ability to save lives. Just...not in my cars. I grew up climbing into the back windows of the various family vehicles, and my "seat belt" was my mother slamming her arm across my chest when she had to hit the brakes hard. I survived MANY accidents over the years without wearing a seat belt. I do, however, insist upon my young nieces and any other youth under the age of 18 to wear their seat belts in my cars, as they are not old enough to make that choice as to what is in their best interests, and it is also simply called "parenting" (a word easily forgotten these days, and a topic for another discussion perhaps). I do not demean, nor otherwise try to convince anyone that they do or don't need it, as it is their choice. They are free to utilize these devices at their will, free of judgment. I had a friend who was wearing a lap belt in my teens, who died because of this belt. The car rolled 4 times end-over-end and 8 times barrel roll before coming to a rest against a tree. He was the ONLY one wearing his belt, and said belt cut him right in half at his pelvis. Talk about a gruesome sight. It was injuries like this that motivated auto manufacturers to come up with the belt we all are accustomed to today, the 3 point. Lap belts are known to be dangerous in certain accidents. That image haunts me to this day, and I cannot stand wearing seat belts. I have a medical waiver stating that I can go without. PTSD is a bitch, and ANY battle veteran knows this all to well.
On the topic of battle veterans. Is not taking a job where bullets flying at you is an inevitable possibility just as serious, if not more serious, than a helmet or seat belt law, and the incurred costs. The very same arguments levied against those who elect to not wear head gear while riding their motorcycles can be levied at those who stand and die for the very freedoms that grant me that choice. They willingly step in front of bullets, that can, and do, cost them their lives so we can have these discussions. For this, I am grateful to these brave souls who fight for my freedom to chose what I believe is in MY best interests. This too, incurs a cost on the American taxpayer, and it's a cost I am more than willing to pick up. Of course, if you ask Obama, they need to "buck up and carry their own weight". Not in my lifetime. But the risk associated with this job is no more or less than that incurred riding without a helmet. You could die doing either activity.
Let us talk about social security. It won't be there when I reach the age to claim my paid in benefits. I will only get approx 2/3 of my paid-in benefit. Too many folks are too worried about other crap, like helmet laws (which as shown above can save lives on paper, but more riders die wearing them than those who do not...by some 3,000 individuals in 2009 alone), over more important issues like illegal immigration, gang violence, educational deficiency (the USA is ranked 25th last I checked in education), youth programs, ect. I have read, more than once, about how "border jumpers" reach the age of obtaining SSI (65) and coming over the border and obtaining benefits. Benefits they neither paid into, nor deserve. Where does this resonate? Nobody seems to care about this. Nothing seems to be done about it. This cost everyone more than all the above combined.
All in all, I myself have never once said that a helmet can't and don't save any lives. I don't dispute that they can save lives. I know folks who have crashed wearing them, as stated by many members here, and credit the helmet for their lives. I also knew a few who have died either as a result of them, or a few members here who have wound up in accidents in the recent past that were flukes, fully geared, that died as a result of their injuries. My position on this topic is not one of the propaganda they will feed you in the media. My position is that of freedom of choice. Freedom of choice whether it be a helmet, seat belt, abortion, sexual preference, religion, platform, ect. Freedom. The freedom to decide what is best for me. The freedom to voice my opinion. The freedom granted me by the founders of this great nation 200 years ago. The freedoms that idiots who want to pad all the corners and bubble wrap every single individual from themselves can't stand us to have.
My stance is, and has always been, personal freedom. The very same freedoms that people are fighting and dying for now, in the past, and I'm quite sure in the future. The very same freedoms that many other nations ruled by absolute power and dictatorships can't stand and don't allow their people to have. I believe in America, and what she stands for. And I WILL exercise, and fight for my right to choose. America was not founded on the basis of telling its population that they must be safe in their practices. It was founded to afford its populous the opportunity to make that decision for themselves. To take on the responsibilities (another word easily forgotten these days) that come with the choices you make, whether it's your safety, your choice on guns, choice on abortion, religion, sexual preference, hair color, how fast you drive ect. It was also based on accepting the consequences, both good and bad, of your choices. Hence, the judiciary system we have in place.
I'm not even gonna open the can of worms on the "Drug War" and it's cost, both monetarily and in lives. It boggles the mind, to say the least.
Last, but not least, let us not forget the number 1 killer worldwide, with over 900,000 deaths each and every year, and that's the western system of medicine. It is referred to as iatrogenic death. Whether due to the poisons (drugs) prescribed, or medical misdiagnosis. The last year calculated (2011), in the USA alone, there was over 200,000 deaths due to medical malpractice.
I don't see anyone shedding a bit of concern on this. Let us worry about whether or not someone has a helmet on, or can handle a gun safely and responsibly, or perhaps whether or not the corners have enough padding on them. God forbid someone hurt themselves doing something. How ever did most of us make it to adulthood?
I am open to intelligent discussion on these topics. If you cannot come at this discussion with tact and integrity, then do not expect your response to be acknowledged. This is an all encompassing discussion on legislation designed to infringing upon our freedom of choice. Check your baggage at the door and bring facts only. Let us not focus solely on helmet use here, even though it's the continuous opinion based facts, and bashings, as well as the bulk of this thread thus far, that drew me to type this up. I have left out as much emotion as possible, aside from my patriotism, as I could. I ask you do the same.
"In a world full of hate.....There is nothing left to divide."
T. J. Maiden ca. 1994
What's wrong with you people? The sky is MANY colors throughout the day....not JUST BLUE!