Wednesday, April 10, 2013
It goes without saying that motorcycle helmets save lives. Decades of clear evidence and experience on the subject have removed any need to advance that argument, right?
Republican North Carolina lawmakers, bolstered by House and Senate majorities in Raleigh, are pushing a bill to repeal the state’s helmet laws for adult riders of motorcycles. The message from the bill’s proponents is that freedom of choice should outweigh concerns about safety and expense. That brand of freedom afforded to some, however, can have a nasty way of limiting the freedoms and choices of others.
House Bill 109, co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, would require helmets for riders younger than 21 and for inexperienced older riders who have been licensed for less than 12 months. Other riders who choose not to wear a helmet would be required to carry enough insurance to cover the first $10,000 of medical bills in the event of crash injury.
Anyone who has experienced hospitalization for almost anything during the last two decades can be excused for chuckling at the thought of $10,000 covering the likely cost of treatment for crash injuries involving motorcycle riders not wearing helmets.
The bill already has rumbled through the House Transportation Committee and must clear the House Judiciary Committee, the full House and the Senate before it can effectively unbuckle the state’s helmet law — which many political observers believe will happen.
Dr. Herb Garrison, director of the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program and a professor of emergency medicine at East Carolina University, has years of experience lobbying against efforts to remove or water down the state’s helmet law. He points to substantial increases in motorcycle injuries and deaths in states that have repealed helmet laws.
“My worry is that we will see in North Carolina the same results that Florida, Michigan and other states have seen,” Garrison said, “which is that fewer motorcyclists will be wearing helmets and more will be injured or killed.”
If that is indeed the scenario in store for North Carolina, taxpayers here should be able to choose whether they will pay for the associated increases in health care costs. Perhaps Rep. Brown could help sponsor a bill to ensure that freedom.
via The Daily Reflector.