Helmets for hardheads

January 22, 1991

Bikers opposed to a Schaefer administration bill that would require motorcyclists to wear helmets while operating their vehicles insist they have a right to go bareheaded because the only people likely to get hurt by such behavior are themselves. It's an argument we've heard before, most recently in the debate over the state's mandatory seat belt law, which was also criticized as an unwarranted government intrusion on individual freedom. The argument was wrong-headed then, and it's wrong now.

What the proponents of such "freedom" really want is a license for irresponsibility. A University of Maryland study of 1,900 motorcycle accidents over a recent one-year period reported that unhelmeted riders were almost twice as likely to sustain head injuries as helmeted riders and that the average cost of emergency treatment for such injuries was $30,365, or about three times that for helmeted victims. Other studies have shown that the mortality rate for unhelmeted riders is double that for bikers who wear helmets.

Ultimately we all bear the costs of such irresponsibility masquerading as freedom -- in the form of higher medical and motor vehicle insurance premiums. That was why the legislature passed the seat belt law; and the same rationale applies to motorcycle helmets. Society shouldn't have to pay for the stubbornness of a few hardheads who think it's smarter to risk death or serious injury than take the simple precaution of wearing a helmet.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.