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The Helmet Controversy and Bikers Rights

For more than 30 years, the debate over whether or not helmets should be mandatory for all has raged in the biker community and throughout various legislatures. Supporters of helmet laws believe mandatory use of helmets can reduce brain injuries and fatalities among bikers. Critics of helmet laws, however, believe wearing helmets cannot prevent death and can actually cause spine and neck injuries in minor crashes. Beyond the medical effects, the helmet debate has hinged on whether or not it is constitutional and in line with personal liberties for any arm of government to force individuals to wear protective gear. This article is presented as a service to the biking community by Action Donation Services who handles the tax deductible donations of motorcycles and other property such as cars, boats, motorhomes, and trucks for some of America’s finest charities:

Some bikers stage protest rides and rallies crusading for the repeal of helmet laws. Such demonstrations are anchored on the belief that laws forcing the use of helmets are an expression of a nanny-like government overly involving itself in personal choices of bikers and forcing those bikers to take care of themselves in the way the government feels is best. Other cyclists embrace helmet laws and educate peers on the most effective helmets because they believe motorcyclists should participate in smart safety strategies. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, helmets proved 65 percent effective in guarding against brain injuries. In preventing fatalities, the center found helmets to be 35 percent effective. Some biker groups theorize that data in favor of helmets have been manipulated.

Illinois, Colorado, and Iowa do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, and 24 other states require minors to wear helmets when on motorbikes. Only 20 states—among them Alabama, California, Louisiana, and New York—universally mandate helmets for every person no matter the age. Helmet critics in Louisiana have frequently challenged the state’s universal helmet requirement as unconstitutional. It was repealed in 1976 and again in 1999 but was reestablished again in 2004.

From coast to coast, associations, brotherhoods, and riding clubs exist to provide not only camaraderie but also support for biker rights. Most of these organizations have online websites where bikers can stay abreast of events, cruises, legal defense, and proper training.