A headline on a recent article read, "Three bikers not wearing helmets hurt at Bike Week." This is another attempt by non-riders to get more of the non- riding public to join them in a crusade to righteously save the riders.
Helmets are gear that can either kill or save the rider, depending on the circumstances of the crash. Should a rider's bike slip from under him or her and the rider slide along the road, a helmet is a wonderful thing, as are full leathers, gloves, boots and pads. But if a rider is broadsided or rear-ended by a car, the helmet in many cases becomes a killer, a neck-snapping trap. In the National Safety Transportation Board's own statistics, in more than 70 percent of all accidents involving a bike and a car, the car driver is at fault.
There is no penalty for killing a bike rider through negligent driving, and therein lies the problem. If we fail to educate drivers about all aspects of the road, if we let drivers drink milkshakes, talk on cell phones and put on makeup while driving, deadly accidents will continue.
When such an accident involves a motorcycle -- also the safest form of road transportation -- the rider likely will be hurt badly or killed no matter what he or she is wearing. Therefore, it is imperative to let the rider determine his or her gear.
One last important point: In Bike Week 2000, when 15 riders were killed, the unconstitutional helmet law had not yet been repealed. Go figure. The following year, when they pointed to six deaths that were so-called motorcycle-related, two of those people were run down by cars while standing near their bikes, two died of internal injuries not head-related, and the two who died of head injuries were wearing helmets.