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Question of the day *** Updated x1 ***

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

Before we begin, I’ve narrowed yesterday’s caption contest down to two entrants, although there were lots and lots of funny ones. So, would “Not So Fast” (”Yeah, Sis, walking on water was pretty cool, but did he make an airport disappear overnight?”) and Austin Mayor (“A spokesman said that no one in the mayor’s office knew that Sister Mary-Elephant did not actually own and operate the Roman Catholic Church when the City awarded the Vatican a multi-million dollar contract earmarked for women- and minority-owned businesses.”) please get in touch with me? I’ll buy each of you something from our charity project site. Your choice.


Now, on to the question, which has a summertime flavor: Should the state require motorcycle riders to wear helmets? Explain.

*** UPDATE *** The commenter “Not So Fast” has asked, Stevie Wonder-like, that his/her award be given instead to “Bue,” whose entry “Mayor Daley introduces Stage 1 of the White Sox restructuring plan” was also one of my faves. So, Bue, reach out to me and I’ll get you some victory swag.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - S. Illinois - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:40 am:

    No. It would interfere with Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the (mentally) fittest.

  2. - reflector - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:49 am:


  3. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:50 am:

    Please, don’t use all caps in comments. IT MAKES YOU LOOK GOOFY.

  4. - Justice - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:52 am:

    Actually, the insurance companies should pay or not pay claims based upon whether the rider(s) was wearing a helmet when an accident occurred. Since only the single rider is affecting his or her safety (Darwin theory again) that should be their individual health/economic choice. Put the financial burden on the rider, not the public in general. This would be a great opportunity for the state to assess a fee for bikers not wanting to wear helmets. A tag required on their plate giving them the right to “no helmet.” Wow, will that balance the budget or what!!

  5. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:53 am:

    S. Illinois has got it. Helmets serve to thin the herd. Ultimately it is good for all of our survival. If you are dumb enough to ride without a helmet we are better off without you in the gene pool.

    Answering further: People are free to do dumb stuff as long as it doesn’t impact me. “Raising my insurance rates” or “making me live with the sight of the head cracked against my hood” is not enough to overcome the individual’s interest.

    Insurance companies may want to write that into policies and I would support them if they did, but that is a private contractual matter and not a matter of state regulation.

  6. - wndycty - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 9:57 am:

    Yes for the same reason that the state requires people to wear seat belts.

  7. - Bluefish - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:01 am:

    No. We need the organ donors.

  8. - Gene Parmesan - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:05 am:

    No, and we shouldn’t require drivers to wear seatbelts either. Both good things to do, but it should be your choice.

  9. - The Horse - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:15 am:

    Of course they should.

    Either that, or pass a law that there will be no treatment and/or medicaid coverage nor obligation to treat when there is a head injury.

  10. - Captain America - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    Helmets should be mandatory.

    Sufficient thinning occurs from motorcylcle. accidents to parts of the body that helmets don’t protect. Take my word for it - I worked in a hospital when I was in college. Or ask anyone who works in a hospital emergency room.

    Denying insurance coverage to people who suffer head injuries simply punishes the providers of medical services, since seriously injured people are highly unlikely to be able to pay their bills.

    Requiring people to wear a helmet is no different than reuqiring people to wear seat-belts.

    It’s an easy law to enforce, since violators will be readily identifiable. Enforcement will create unviersal compliance.

    I ride a bicycle and I wear a helmet. It’s just common sense that motorcycle riders should be required to wear helmets. I could care less what the anti-helmet lobby says.

  11. - Not So Fast - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Hey, Rich, can you give my booty to Bue? I found that one to be especially funny because the Sox already have one penguin — A.J.

  12. - way northsider - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    Yes, although it will cut down on the supply of organ donors.

  13. - sometimes rider - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    Rich, aren’t you risking your ABATE bona fides just asking the question? Once upon a time I rode without, now with. I’m just not as bulletproof as I used to be, or, if I’m wrong about that, don’t want to mar the asphalt with my hard head. Anyway, I’m willing to let it up to the riders. I don’t think that Justice’s suggestion would work too well. Are we going to let people with closed head injuries just die because they can’t support themselves. Unlikely. They’ll wind up in nursing homes courtesy of Illinois Department of Public Aid (or what what ever they’re calling it now, let’s just say “the taxpayers’ dime”).

    Here’s the important part, though. Even though I’m unwilling to protect people from themselves on this issue, I am willing to protect them from their parents. Somebody NEEDS to propose legislation requiring children under a certain age (majority? driving age?) to wear helmets and other appropriate protective gear. I get really galled when I see dad with a kid on the back with no helmet, no shoes, pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I hate to think of that kid suffering through life after brain injury and/or just a bunch of road rash just because of irresponsible parents.

  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    Thy will be done, NSF.

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:29 am:

    SR, I think the ABATE folks can handle a little debate, athough Todd might be feeling a bit put-upon this week, what with the gun stuff and all. We’ve definitely got his attention. Maybe I should write about the Local 150 elections next. lol

  16. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:32 am:

    I have family members who work on a rural volunteer ambulance crew who are tired of dealing with gruesome cycle accidents and want mandatory helmet laws. But I also have a family member who works with organ transplant recipients and he sees helmetless riders as an excellent resource.

    So I think that Illinois should have a law that mandates motorcycle helmets UNLESS the person applying for the motorcycle license signs an organ donor form. The cyclist/donors could be issued an identifying sticker to put on their license plates to ward off traffic stops for no helmet.

    It’s win friggin’ win.

    – SCAM

  17. - Logical - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:34 am:

    No! Based on the insurance arguement above, I say that insurance companies should refuse to cover car wrecks that are alcohol related. Many of you would be surprised at the amount of money insurance companies must pay out for these tyoes of wrecks.
    While many will think this is an excuse, helmets are heavy and very tiring to wear.
    It has been my experience that cars are the major causes of motorcycle wrecks. I generally ride with a group of five, the four HD all ride with their headlights and spot lights on, the Honda rider has a flashing headlights, and we still have cars pullout in front of us and then look suprised when they are quickly passed. With very few exceptions, every motorcycle wreck I have worked involves either a car or the rider was impaired by alcohol.

  18. - Stallion - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:36 am:

    An individuals rights are being restricted at a rabbits pace, from what i can and cant eat (foie gras, and i dont eat foie gras), to having to wear a helmet. When will goverment let us live freely? Restriction after restriction, No Helmets, No more laws restricting my freedom of choice …

  19. - Ken in Aurora - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:49 am:

    I don’t think helmets should be mandatory, but I do think all riders that choose not to ride with helmets should be excluded from any publicly funded healthcare and should be legally considered DNR.

  20. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    Yes to helmet laws and to motocycle seat belts. And make them get an airbag while they’re at it.

    How about an airbag motorcycle suit? When you are hit wearing it, you explode into the Stay-Puf marshmallow man! WOW! Talk about fun for auto and truck drivers!

  21. - c'mon - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:53 am:

    Seriously, what ever happened to personal responsibility and freedom in this country? Jeez, everyone becomes reliant on government to tell them and others what to do…perhaps we should debate a state mandated bedtime too…tired people are more likely to cause traffic accidents, be less productive and are more prone to illness…c’mon people! you gotta be kidding me

  22. - Slick Willy - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 10:59 am:

    Stop with all the Nannyism. What’s next? No french fries or beer? Two out of three people in this country are just plain fat. Teenagers are getting diabetes at an alarming rate. Smoking and drinking of alcohol - both proven to have negative effects on the health of those who consume them - are pretty much encouraged. Heart disease kills millions. Perhaps the question should be “should chldren be allowed to eat french fries?”. If you truly want to keep people safe from themselves (which seems to be a common problem with the state of Illinois), focus on issues that have real costs to society.

    If your concern is to keep people from shifting costs onto others, I would suggest that a rider be required to show a certain level of medical insurance before being allowed to ride without a helmet. Issue a plate sticker for $5 (no more than the cost of providing the sticker) and be done with it. Texas has a similar model in place. The organ donar requirement is just a bit too fascist for any sane person to support. Hopefully, it was tongue in cheek.

    Ona side note, the majority of my auto insurance is for uninsured/underinsured drivers. Why does Illinois not a requirement for proving insurance for automobiles? I have yet to show that I have insurance when I buy tags for my truck and car.

  23. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:00 am:

    No, it should not be a matter of government regulation.

    Helmets in town block hearing and provide peripheral vision distarctions. They increase the chances of an accidant when riding about town. On the highway the wind noise and lack of substantive cross traffic and signals support use of a helmet.

    If helmets are such a life saver, lets requiore them of automobile drivers as well. Darwin knows many auto fatalities come from head injuries either from being ejected or from blows to the head sustained in the collision. So as smart people recognizing the need to protect our heads we should wear helmets in cars too. Afeter all, only an ignorant person would operate an automobile without a helmet given the number of fatal ead injuries in car accidents each year.

    The insurance companies should refuse to insure auto drivers who do not wear helmets, and leather protective gear and heavy boots to minimize injuries. I would support them privately requiring people to don complete sets of protective gear or be uninsurable. Think how many auto injuries from lack of heavy boots, jackets made of kevlar with added plates for protection, reinforced gloves etc could be avoided by requring everyone to wear prtotective gear.

  24. - Guy Montag - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    Why bother? If the state were to mandate a helmet law, they’d have to mandate leathers, boots, etc. as well. I think it’d be borderline comical to see some one cruising down the street on their hog with a helmet on while wearing jean cutoffs, a t-shirt and sandals.

  25. - independent - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    People who ride without helmets have mush for brains.

  26. - sometimes rider - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:15 am:

    BTW, I read a story in the WSJ today that indicated that a number of health insurance policies exclude coverage for injury resulting from participation in “active sports” including motorcycle riding and bungee jumping. Gonna have to look at my policy.

    Rich - down the road would you consider a QOTD on my other suggestion - mandatory helmets for kids on motorcycles? I’m curious. I’m also curious how ABATE would specifically react to this.

  27. - Leigh - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:23 am:

    I was born and raised in Michigan where there had been a helmet law as long as I can remember. It did not seem to hurt anyone.

  28. - Stallion - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:43 am:

    Hey Leigh, good for Michigan ! This is Illinois and a state that has one less restriction than yours ! I also have to agree to the comment made about other drivers inattentiveness to Motorcycles. Its true you must pay very close attention to the road and your suroundings always, because either someone driving without a license, cant understand the rules of the road, or is violating the rules of the road by “right of way” is to blame for alot, NOT all crashes. I believe public awareness, especially from April thru October (most of Illinois riding season), would be a great educational tool and accident preventitive. The Sec. of State could run commercials just as those run for the organ donor program or the .08 alcohol awareness for drunk drivers…

  29. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:54 am:

    Oddly most of the arguments are just ad hominem attacks on the intelligience of those who do not follow the authors beleif in wearing a helemt. Any pro helmet law folks actually ride? and have you looked at the actual federal report “Fatality Analysis Reporting System” to determine if there is factual support for your antecdotal beleifs.

    To begin with, Illinois utilizes motorcycle riding safety programs in place of a helmet laws. These programs are not mandatoryy to getting a license. 25% of reported accidents were do to licesned riders not knowing how to ride. These licensed riders had not taken the saftey rider program to get their license. Helmets elimnate 0% of accidents. Mandate completion of the training program and you reduce the accidents of licensed riders by 25%. Further 33% of the total accidents were from unlicensed riders.

    ALso of note, 54% of fataly injured riders where wearing their helemts.

    Truth, most bike accidents are single vehicle and the result of alcohol or speeding. If you want to reduce death from bikes accidents pass laws requiring certain levels of training and skill to get the license. And for pete’s stake, get off the soap box of preaching about intelligience and helmet use. next you will fall back on cranium size and intelligience.

    Over 50% of Bike fatalties are due to unlicensed riders or riders without sufficient skill. Lets look at stopping the accidents, not adding a method to create more intown collisions.

    While we are at it, fatalities go down substantially in auto accidents if you drive a new heavy vehicle, especially for SUV’s. With this helmet law we need to pass an SUV law requring everyone to drive large SUV’s to save lives.

  30. - Bue - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:00 pm:

    Not So Fast - Thanks! I’ll admit, your caption was better.

  31. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:03 pm:

    Note to Ghost:
    If you want to write about the great intelligence of people who ride motorcycles, please run a spell check.

    The numerous errors in your last note defeated any point that you were trying to establish.

  32. - Roger - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:19 pm:

    Really, those three are the winners? geesh

    As for helmets…up the the individual, pretty simple.

  33. - irishpirate - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:24 pm:

    I should be beaten with a ruler for missing your “nun” photo yesterday. Any good Catholic boy, or me, would know that few nuns use that style of habit anymore. I don’t think that habit has been seen much since 1970.

    Turns out it was a 6 year old photo of Hizzoner and an actress from the play Late Nite Catechism.

  34. - Reddbyrd - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:32 pm:

    I am sure everyone will agree that Todd is the BEST reason for helmets to be required

  35. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:35 pm:

    Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but Todd wears a helmet.

  36. - Doodles - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:47 pm:

    No, as long as brain-injured former motorcyclists don’t expect the taxpayer to pay their medical bills and support them for the rest of their life.

  37. - The Guild of Calamitous Intent - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:56 pm:

    It was a fake nun?!

  38. - Nick Naylor - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 12:56 pm:

    Once again … it isn’t about wearing a helmet, or not wearing a helmet. It is about eliminating the choice because “we know better what is good for you”. It is about the authority of the state to make decisions for me, versus the freedom to make the decision myself. I find it odd that the same folks on the political left who preach “my body - my choice” in some instances, are the most outspokenly anti-choice on helmets, seat belts, smoking, fried foods, (insert trendy feel good cause here), etc. etc. etc.

  39. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:03 pm:

    Having been hit 3 times by cars while riding a bicycle, the last put my in the hospital with 2 broken bones and a minor head injury, I come down on the side of helmets for riders of bikes & motorcycles. If I had been wearing a helmet I would have avoided the head injury.

    The fact that a helmet MAY reduce the severity of an injury ought to be enough to persuade people to wear one.

    I think that the issue is whether a helmet can reduce the severity of an injury.

    The case can also be made for a helmet by the professional motorcycle riders. Have you ever seen a race the the riders didn’t have to wear a helmet? Also how many of pro riders walk away from crashes because they are wearing helmets and leathers?

  40. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:09 pm:

    Good points, Huh, but the question is should the state mandate helmet-wearing, not should people wear them.

  41. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:13 pm:

    The state has mandated a wide range of things in the name of public health - seat belts, child car seats, vacinations etc. I don’t see a problem with a helmet law.

  42. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    Interesting point, Nick Naylor.

    Personally, I find it interesting that those people on the right who think that the government has a right to go into somebody’s bedroom and tell them what sort of things consenting adults can do in there also believe that there is some sort of right of privacy that prohibits the government from telling a driver on a public street what he must do to avoid imposing a financial burden on an innocent hospital.

  43. - He makes Ryan look like a saint - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:15 pm:

    They should require it, for the simple fact that many people with head injuries end up requiring them to go on disability, which is taxpayer funded. There should be a law that if you do NOT wear a helmet and results in a head injury while riding you will void the rights to future disability payments.

    To me, if you are required to wear a seat belt, you should be required to wear a helmet.

  44. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:19 pm:

    He Makes Ryan Look Like A Saint:

    By your logic, we should bar fatty food and mandate that people work out. After all, when fat people have strokes, they may impose a burden on us all.

    The seat belt thing is a red herring, since it is one of the few regulations that simply seeks to protect the individual from harming himself. I would argue that the seat belt law is also improper for that reason. However, child seats, vaccinations, etc. seek to protect those who cannot protect themselves and as such are in a different category.

  45. - Tek - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:30 pm:

    I agree Skeeter…but the scary thing is some pols are moving in that direction, i.e. banning fatty foods, etc.

    I’m against the helmet law and seat belt law.

  46. - Grumpas - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:37 pm:

    Can anyone tell me how much Federal transportation money is left on the table because Illinois doesn’t have a helmet law?? That alone should be reason enough to support such a law.

  47. - mark - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 1:39 pm:

    Should the state mandate helmets for motorcyclists? No. Should the state mandate anything that takes away my personal freedoms and choice? NO!

    Our personal freedoms are slowly being eroded away by various government (federal, state, and local) actions claiming they are protecting us. Protecting me from what? My choice? I’m a fairly intelligent adult who understands cause and effect, responsibilities, and consequences. Why do I need some political pundit or vocal minority telling me how to live my life?

    What is the perceived outcome from mandating helmets? Less fatalities? Au contreau, the FARS data clearly indicates 72% of fatalities were caused by severe trauma to the torso (sorry organ donor crowd)

    And if someone out there could please tell me what magical powers a helmet holds that will prevent the all too common automobile driver that violates the right-of-way (Oh, I didn’t see him/her. While eating my bowl of cereal and reading the paper)

    If helmets are mandated, its guaranteed one result, and only one result, will occur - 100% of motorcyclist fatalities will be wearing a helmet.

  48. - pickles!! - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:07 pm:

    No! wearing a helmet/seatbelt should be choice, not law.

  49. - yes to helmets - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:09 pm:

    I vote for requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. I believe the public funds used to help cover medical and disability payments for head injuries could be put to better use.

  50. - pickles!! - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:20 pm:

    Actually, i was surpised to see that Illinois is one of only 4 states that has no helmet laws of any kind. Thats kind of a shock. A state that is pretty strcit with rules of the road laws, i was surprised to see that.

  51. - Ferdy - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:32 pm:

    I actually know the man who fought an attempt by the state to impose a helmet law and, obviously, won the fight. He was very much about freedom of choice and the pleasures of riding without a sensory impediment, and he rode his Harley until he was no longer able to walk due to congestive heart failure. He died at a very ripe old age. His sons ride without helmets and haven’t had a problem. They take their road safety very seriously and even instruct their riders on how to move with the bike. They provide a helmet if to passengers who want them.

    I agree with the posters who said that better instruction is mandatory. I have cut off a motorcycle myself while driving because the rider didn’t watch to stay out of my blind spot, which is greatly increased for such small vehicles, even when you look around.

    I’ve also seen the effects of head trauma from bike accidents. It’s a terrible thing. Perhaps instead of making helmets mandatory, which will just stir up another fight of the proportions of the first one, drivers’ ed classes should take a field trip to the head trauma units of the local hospitals and rehab facilities.

  52. - Logical - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    To the taxpayer financed diability people, I personally do not want to waste my money on those individuals who have chosen to drink, smoke, …, you name any particular vice. Your car insurance premiums pay for those who have chosen to not buy insurance. If you have ever had your car towed, you are paying extra for all of the non-paying wrecked vehicles. If you are under forty, you are paying into an SS program that will require more taxes or less benefits. My point is, taxpayer are always paying for something that does not benefit them (directly or indirectly).

  53. - Ferdy - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 2:56 pm:

    Does anyone understand the concept of risk pools? The financial risk is spread over all the insured people and pays for insured people who make claims, not for uninsured people who don’t. Healthcare costs are another matter, but the vast majority of claims are for insured people, not uninsured people. The towing fees must be fair market value, all you little Milton Friedmans out there who don’t want to pay taxes and believe the market takes care of everything.

  54. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 3:17 pm:


    Your argument makes no sense and shows a real lack of understanding of risk pools.

    The idea is always to find the best (usually the largest) risk pool. Getting people with bad habits out of the risk pool (either by not including them originally or excluding the loss) would be a way to provide better insurance rates.

    That would still dump the people on the State though, and the State would likely pick up the tab for the bad habits of the helmet-less, just as it picks up the tab for the fat people who have strokes.

  55. - Herself - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 4:14 pm:

    Motorcycle helmets should be law for 18 year olds and younger. My ex put my young son on the back of his motorcycle with no helmet. I was told there was nothing I could do about it because Illinois had no helmet law. I could have went back to custody court to get an order banning my ex from this activity, but I didn’t want to wait the three months for a court date. So instead, I took a baseball bat to my ex’s house with the intent of destroying his motorcycle. Let’s just say….my ex never rode with my son on his motorcycle again.

  56. - Ferdy - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 4:23 pm:

    “Your car insurance premiums pay for those who have chosen to not buy insurance.” Why don’t you answer this ridiculous statement, Skeeter, instead of telling me how insurance companies have pushed their profits up by excluding people who might actually make a claim and who need to get their money’s worth of insurance. I repeat, motorcyclists pay vehicle insurance and probably more than the average person. Uninsured drivers may make claims on insured drivers, but it the accident is the insured driversfault, then they should pay.

  57. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 4:32 pm:

    Well Ferdy, I didn’t respond because the statement that you referenced is true.

    Your auto premium includes things like uninsured and underinsured coverage. Your premium does pay for those who do not have insurance.

    The bottom line remains: Insurance has to do with adjusting the risk pool. I don’t think we should have a helmet law, but at the same time, I don’t want you in my risk pool. I will take coverage from an insurer that excludes people who don’t wear helmets if it will lower my rates.

    Finally, one last irony: Ferdy believes that people have some great right to go without a helmet. According to Ferdy, demanding a helmet is too much government. However, according to Ferdy (if I understand Ferdy’s argument and Ferdy can correct me if I’m wrong), government SHOULD require insurers to insure the people without helmets, even if the insurer believes that a better business decision is to exclude them.

    So much for Ferdy logic.

  58. - Ferdy - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 4:55 pm:

    Actually, Skeeter, my premiums pay for the negligent drivers in my risk pool who are found to be responsible for a collision. Insurance companies make tons of money by denying claims they ought to pay. They are not in any danger of going broke, nor are their stockholders.

    Insurance rates generally are determined by risk factors of the individual insured. If you think yours are too high, maybe you ought to engage in less risky behavior yourself.

    As to the right to not wear a helmet, it has been debated furiously for years in this state. I’d rather people wore them, but this has been a Republican state for many years, and the elephants like people to choose for themselves. What I think is somewhat irrelevant to what is the reality.

  59. - Bob - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 4:56 pm:

    Education is everything…. Not Legislation….

    With the few freedoms we have left, the ability to make decisions (until the government uses DNA to change that) and the higher cost of fuel, the general public needs to understand that while they are on the phone, driving their cars and drinking their coffee, we are out there.

    We pay for and send teens thru drivers ed yet do not teach them enough (without ABATE Present) to understand what motorcycle riders are doing.

    I have a few hundred thousand miles under my belt on motorcycles and have never been wheels up on the pavement. Education is everything for both the rider and the car driver.

    Every motorcyclist in the state with a Valid M class license and a registered licensed motorcycle pays for the State Of Illinois, Motorcycle Safety Foundation Training Classes there by making the MSF Classes 100% Free in this state!

    Think you’re a good or great driver? Sign up and take the course. They supply the motorcycles!

    You will get a real quick lesson on
    1) What it takes to ride correctly
    2) What we the riders have to deal with every time we start the bike
    3) And just how many people fail on a regular basis
    That is if you can even get in….

    Not enough classes for everyone that Want’s To and our Fantastic Governor stealing the funds from this Education…

    You want to wear a helmet, that’s cool. You want to regulate minors under your legal right, that’s cool.

    Just stay out of my space…. I pay for everything I have and everything to support it.

    Be cool and leave us alone

  60. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 5:11 pm:


    You really don’t have a clue. Your post was nothing but the rambling of the ignorant.

    Insurers make money by denying claims that they ought to pay? What a completely insane statement. The odds are stacked against the insurers. The burden facing an insurer seeking to deny coverage is unbelievable. The insurer actually has the burden of showing that coverage is excluded. Try winning one of those cases, much less using that as a basis for insane profits.

    Second, your auto policy includes uninsured (the State requires the insurer to at least offer that coverage). That coverage pays when you are in an accident with an at-fault uninsured driver.

    So yes, your auto coverage does pay for those people who do not have coverage.

    The problem is that people love the idea of “freedom of contract” until it turns out that the contract does not cover their loss. Then they want government to step in and change that contract. So much for freedom of contract.

  61. - olbmwrider - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 5:12 pm:

    No! Putting anything on the outside of your head does not prevent accidents. What is inside your head prevents accidents. Education is the answer.

  62. - Ed Gillette - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 5:21 pm:

    Education not Legislation is the key to motorcycle safety. Look at the statistics. It is a proven fact.

  63. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    If you got a 10 dollar head, wear a 10 dollar helmet. Law or not, you wouldn’t check me without a helmet, on or off the road.

  64. - Arnie - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 6:01 pm:

    I feel it should ber left up to the riders if they want a helmet or not. I am not against helmets and often wear one myself, but don’t feel it is the goverments right to make my decision. Thank you

  65. - Chief - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 6:15 pm:

    I have read most of these posts and would like to point out some of the facts, fiction and assumptions made on both sides. Before I do this, however, I would like to clarify the credentials I bring. First, I am a motorcycle rider of several years, so I do have experience. Second, I am a retired military member so I do have a strong feeling about the freedoms we have and stand to lose as Americans. Third, I am currently a college student obtaining my degree in education and have already met the endorsement requirements for general sciences, social sciences and language arts and I currently carry a 3.92 GPA so I do not consider myself to “have mush for brains.” I am an ordained minister, father of three children and been happily married to the same woman for more than 17 years. Finally, I grew up with a mother who worked in the insurance industry and have a wide range of knowledge in the area.

    Facts can be given on both sides of the argument and backed up by statistical data depending on the focus of the study and the skewing of the numbers. According to the NHTSA it almost seems that just looking at an ad for a motorcycle will cause certain death while many in ABATE bring out stats that prove every bad thing that happens, from the Lindbergh baby to the fame of Paris Hilton, is due to car drivers. To find the real answers, there should be an unbiased study done, but as long as the study is funded by the government, the political groups, the manufacturers or the insurance company, that study won’t happen.

    However, over my years of experience (and yes, I have had training and I am a volunteer motorcycle awareness instructor) I would like to point out flaws in many of the arguments presented here.

    I know it may be amazing to many of you out there, but the vast majority of bikers carry full insurance, often greater than that of their cars, and they pay higher premiums for it. Most motorcycle riders already know the inherent dangers of non-observant car drivers, especially in this modern age of drivers talking on the cell phone (now THERE”S a law we should be looking at!) while sipping a latte and tapping on a laptop. They realize that the chances of being a statistic and insure themselves properly. As a positive side effect of years of motorcycle riding, bikers tend to learn to be much more aware of their surroundings, even while in a cage (car or truck).

    As for bikers being a bunch of brainless rednecks, I have already given my data, but I also have friends who ride without helmets and this a list of just a few of the professions: lawyer, doctor, nurse, IT professional, IRS worker, military member, firefighter, police dispatcher, business owner, high school teacher, chiropractor, athlete, college professor, state police officer, city police detective, government official, producer, and farmer. I believe that covers a little bit of ground and pretty much across the spectrum of our society.

    With that said, I do believe there are ways that the motorcycle rights groups do not approve of but I feel are in the best interest of society. First, mandatory training, both for motorcycle riders and cagers should be a statewide requirement. Many states have also enacted laws for new motorcyclists that restrict their riding for the first year of their license to include no night riding and limiting the size of bike they can bring to the road. Finally, our DUI laws need to be enforced at a much higher level. Money should not be able to buy out the ticket and the punishment should be severe, no matter what you drive.

    Here’s the key, though. This will require funding and for all the complaining we do as Americans, we cry like babies when we have to pay for it. The state’s motorcycle riders course is funded primarily by additional taxes on motorcycle licenses, but the governor (this includes Blago and his predecessors) tries to grab money from it every year to pay for pet projects. As for teaching motorcycle awareness in high school, the state relies on volunteers from their archenemy, ABATE, to cover that job. Instead of whining about one segment of society or another, why don’t we come up with real solutions and get them done.

    On a personal note, sometimes I wear a helmet and sometimes I don’t. When the odds increase in favor of an accident, such as evenings, with a passenger or during rain, I don my lid. When I am riding on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, I like to feel the wind in my hair and the helmet is strapped to my sissy bar. But I am an American and put my life on the line for 20 years of service to have that right. God bless.

  66. - Lovie's Leather - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 6:20 pm:

    There should be fewer laws, not more. It should be a choice to wear a helmet. If you don’t, you reap the disaster and it is nobody else’s fault. So if there is no government paid health care you won’t have to worry about it. Universal health care is just an excuse to legislate everything the government hasn’t been able to get it’s hands on. But, I am sure Skeeter has a reason for wanting the government to legislate everything that you find to be an inconvenience or not aesthetically pleasing.

  67. - Bob - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 6:25 pm:

    “Can anyone tell me how much Federal transportation money is left on the table because Illinois doesn’t have a helmet law?? That alone should be reason enough to support such a law. ”

    The answer to your question (not like it needs one) is:
    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (Washington DC) and all the ABATE’s around the country fought to fight that and WON!!
    Unlike the seatbelt laws…

    All the states folded on the seatbelt laws because of the Government $

    The bikers of the U.S.A. proved it was un-constitutional and there-for, we lost Nothing!

    Unlike voting in Mr. Steal The Funs! (our current Governor)

  68. - a thought - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 6:45 pm:

    I would like to argue that this is a societal, not a personal issue. Society eventually bears the costs and burdens of a traumatized patient. Social security disability payments come out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Families require increased social support from public institutions. Medical bills are a common cause of personal bankruptcy. Perhaps helmets are not such a bad thing if you look at the big picture.

  69. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 7:34 pm:

    Per Lovie’s Leather:

    “But, I am sure Skeeter has a reason for wanting the government to legislate everything that you find to be an inconvenience or not aesthetically pleasing.”

    You really are a numbskull, LL. Read what I wrote. I made the exact OPPOSITE point.

    That being said, I encourage you, LL, to go for a high speed drunken helmetless ride, ideally while smoking. Exercise those rights of yours. The collective gene pool will thank you.

  70. - BigE - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 8:08 pm:

    No there should not be a helmet law.

    I ask all that used the financial burden to society argument here to examine their lives. I’ll bet there isn’t a single one of you who doesn’t do something that couldn’t be made safer by using additional protective gear. Shouldn’t your reasoning be applied to all such activities? Mowing the lawn, skiing, hunting, fishing, jogging, cooking, bathing, sex – all of these can be made safer and lessen the potential financial burden to society by requiring additional protective equipment.

    Why has it become so popular to single out motorcycling?

  71. - Steve L. - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 8:14 pm:

    I say no to the helmet law. I ride both with and without a helmet as “I” deem necessary. Statistics show that helmets don’t provide much protection at speeds above 35 MPH. A motorcyclist t-boning a 4000 lb. vehicle that has pulled out in front of the bike will render injuries to the cyclist far beyond head injuries, but the helmet issue is the first thing reported. If you are worried about the costs to the insurance companies and tax payers perhaps you should look at bigger pictures–like phony work comp. claims and disability claims as well as other cradle to grave handouts. Bikers represent almost no cost in comparison to the above drains on our systems. Why are those who have never ridden a motorcycle so concerned about protecting those who do ride. Stick to somethng you know about and have revelent imformation about. A free society who gives up freedom for security deserves neither.

  72. - Chief - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 8:33 pm:

    One aspect of the debate that people often overlook is the money. I’m talking the money that comes into the state because this is a helmet free land. On the Mississippi River near St. Louis in areas such as Grafton, Alton, Belleville and Columbia, you will find literally thousands of bikers on the road with Missouri plates. Why? Because Missouri is a helmet state and Illinois is not. Quite often clubs, dealerships and other groups from Missouri will organize their rides in Illinois instead of their own states.

    For the same reason, bikers will often travel in a more distant route when on vacation or on the way to major events such as the Black hills Rally (aka Sturgis), Myrtle Beach Bike Week, Bikertoberfest and many others.

    When these riders come over they bring their money to the tune of millions of dollars in tax revenues from restaurants, gas stations, tourist shops and bars while also raising millions for charities when the riders take part in runs and rallies.

    This is one of the major arguments that states like Missouri are looking at repealing their helmet laws … they want our money! If you want to give it to them, I guess we can always raise our own taxes to make up for the lost revenue.

    On a note to the person who was astounded by the fact that Illinois is only one of four helmet-free states, you glossed over an important fact – Illinois is also one of 30 states that allows adult riders to choose to wear a lid. The other 26 states only regulate under age riders, but adults maintain their freedom of choice with more states looking to follow their example. Basically, you are advocating that Illinois become one of the minority and remove its citizens freedoms!

  73. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 27, 07 @ 11:34 pm:

    I’m not a libertarian or anything, and I really don’t have much problem with government regulating things, but…I’ve had at least one motorcycle every day for 47 years, and I normally don’t wear a helmet. My reason isn’t real esoteric, it’s simply that I find riding so much more enjoyable without a helmet. Part of the real joy for me in riding rather than being in a car is how much more you notice and experience things around you; a helmet interferes with that.

    Once riding back from Texas I got two tickets within an hour in Missouri, and that didn’t change my behavior. I guess I’m stupid or something, but I oppose a mandatory helmet law except for children. I always put my kids in helmets.

  74. - commen-tater - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 3:08 am:

    answer to the question: NO.
    for all of those who look down upon motorcyclist as a source for organ donors, it doesn’t take much to imagine you as a ghoulsih member of the Frankenstein family. As for the social burden therory that some put forth. Several years ago is was stated by helmet law supporters that it was costing the state millinos of dollars to support injured motorcyclists here. A certain State Representative went to the Department of Public Health and asked for records showing how much of public funds was spent on injured motorcyclists here in IL. There was no record showing that motorcyclists cost the state anything. There was no answer from the helmet law proponents as to were the dollar amount they put out came from. Motorcyclists tend to take care of their own by holding fund raisers for those in need. A few months ago I attended a fund raiser which raiser enough $$$ to equal a years wages and I might add that the person who the fund raiser was for was not involved in an accident. For years we have tried to get the NHTSA to change its approach from safer crashing to accident prevention. If we can address the causes of an accident (speed, DUI, following to close and improper lane use)there can be savings realized in several aspects. Comparing helmet and seat belt use is like comparing apples to oranges, there not the same. I called the local state police HQ and asked if it was legal to wear a hekmet while driving a car and the responce was, “What would you want to do that for?” HUMM….

  75. - Ross - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 5:05 am:

    Helmet uses should remain individual choice. Denying medical coverage for riders not wearing a helmet would be a dangerous precedent because it could lead to denial of coverave for other so-called risky activities, like white water rafting, sky diving, rock climbing, hockey, etc. Helmets restrict vision and impair hearing - two very important senses to help avoid an accident in the first place. I feel safer without a helmet because the key to surviving on a motorcycle is avoiding accidents. Helmets do nothing to avoid accidents, and may even increase the risk of being in an accident.

  76. - Spinner - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 6:11 am:

    Of course we should go after the minority (bikers) and make them do what we think is safe (wear helmets). They’re easy targets, like smokers. It’s impossible to enforce the laws against the real killers on the streets who are everything from soccer moms on cell phones to the reckless hyenas on our tollways who will risk your life to gain 5 seconds. Crazy. Put a helmet on the deer, don’t stop hunting season. Let’s focus on the real problems and not get distracted with silly solutions. (People still get killed wearing helmets all the time.)

  77. - lowrider - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:16 am:

    No! Helmets should be the the decision of the rider. I support Freedom of Choice.

    The state has other more important matters like balancing a budget and controlling excessive spending like the Governor’s $6000 trips from Chicago to Springfield. Aren’t we interested in fuel economy and saving the state money?

  78. - BreakfastClub John - Thursday, Jun 28, 07 @ 8:22 am:

    No Helmets… Helmets won’t save as many lives as a good drivers education program, for motorcycle riders and car drivers both… and for goodness sakes… STOP giving drivers licenses to people that shouldn have them… and NO cell phones, Big Macs or anything else that takes a drivers attention away from the road!!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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