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Bryan's Blog

Helmetless Biker Dies in Helmet Law Protest

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Being an Easyrider can come with a price. Every person who rides a motorcycle is aware of the dangers. Wearing a helmet may increase the odds in your favor but it's not a saving grace.
Oh, the irony. CNN is reporting that a man died in a motorcycle accident while protesting the helmet law. The report states Philip A. Contos, 55, hit his brakes, fishtailed, and launched over the handlebars, hitting his head. He was not wearing a helmet, but authorities believe he would have survived if he had. Contos was participating in a ride organized by the Onondaga ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Towards Education) chapter. (More Irony)

Pundits and politicians are going to be all over this. They’ll spout rhetoric about the increasing number of motorcycle fatalities rising at an alarming rate. They’ll pound the pulpit demanding for universal helmet laws, throwing figures and percentages into the air as examples of their irrefutable evidence. Talks of raising the minimum riding age and tiered licensing will be tossed about. And the grand debate, helmet or no helmet will wage on, spearheaded by those who don’t even ride a motorcycle.

Bottom line is, riding a motorcycle is dangerous. It’s an undeniable part of its appeal, riding that fine line between control and reckless abandon. Its dangerous nature doesn’t change, no matter how many layers of protective gear you put on. I believe a motorcycle helmet will increase your chances of surviving an accident and improves the odds you don’t end up a vegetable, but I also believe in an adult’s right to choose. If a rider is over 21, then they should have the right to decide whether they want to wear a helmet or not. I applaud Mr. Contos. He believed in something and stood up to show his support for the cause. His death is both ironic and tragic, but I respect him for standing up for his right to choose. People will argue that his death was preventable, but I’d argue that. Death comes uninvited all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I wear my gear. Enjoy wearing it, too. When I saw roughly 95% of bikers at the recent Laconia Motorcycle Rally riding without helmets, it made me cringe. On a funny side note, New Hampshire patrolmen knew I wasn’t from around there because I was wearing a leather jacket, gloves and full-face helmet on a sultry summer day. If there’s any way I can improve the odds in my favor, I’ll take it. And I believe wearing motorcycle gear works in my favor.
Post Tags: Motorcycle Helmet Law, motorcycle helmets, ABATE, helmetless rider dies protesting helmet law
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Tymon October 19, 2011 02:12 AM
While I understand the point of helmet laws, it seems completely stupid that ONLY the helmet is a requirement. For example...In michigan, I've seen someone on a motorcycle wearing a helmet, and their clothing consisted of a tank top, shorts, and sandals... If you got into an accident at even a relatively 'slow' 45 miles an hour... you'd die. maybe not from a head wound but from a 'oh I just left 35 pounds of flesh on the pavement there, and this appears to be my blood draining out of me' Either make it a requirement to at least have remotely protective pants/top/etc on along with the helmet, or get rid of the helmet laws.
Delta7681 July 6, 2011 04:30 PM
I have not once ever had my insurance rates increase in the 15+ years I've been driving, wether it's car or bike insurance, because of someone else having an accident that I wasn't directly involved in. Insurance rates fluxuate more than just from "motorcycle accidents." It's a combination of all motorized vehicle accidents. And if anything, my rates have only decreased over the years. I don't know about everyone else, but I don't find $400/year for a brand new HD with full coverage and $100k+ medical coverage to be alot. So I just can't see or understand the justification of using the "insurance rates" arguement people try to use. As far as the programs in place to assist those with medical issues because of accidents, then I guess we need to outlaw all the jobs/activities that can cause debilatating injuries and leave people in a vegitative state. Or just let people die from their injuries instead of taking care of them. This is America, grown adults should be able to make a decision and live with the consequences of their choice, wether it was "dumb" or "smart."
22AaronW July 6, 2011 08:49 AM
Give me liberty, and give me death! I apologize for sounding disrespectful to a fallen rider, but this idiot is why we have helmet laws. Oh yeah, and seatbelt laws, and OSHA, and NFPA, and so on.
Some people have to go to extremes for the rest of us to know where the middle is. This guy just did his part to help maintain the balance.

TonyDee July 6, 2011 08:07 AM
Oops..."and especially if you have a helmet on"
TonyDee July 6, 2011 07:59 AM
Some people ride because they love riding any motorcycle anywhere. Others ride because they feel the need to fit in and be seen by their peers. You can't be seen if you don't have loud pipes, you don't rev the engine at ever light, and you especially don't have a helmet on. On a side note Bryan, I see you changed your avatar back. I think the helmet with horns was cool but I can't find it at Icon.
bigpaul66 July 6, 2011 06:37 AM
After spending years as a medic, I can say with a bit of certainty survival is greatly enhanced by a helmet.

As an adult republican, I am all for the right of an adult to choose. I like my cigars my Jack and did ride for many years and may again.

As a tax payer though I say if its your choice pay for it. You want to ride with out a helmet pay for extra insurance so I don t have to pay for your extended care with my tax dollars nor pay higher insurance rates to cover you.

In closing I say only this. If you say that you don t want to wear a helmat because its your right to add extra risk to your life, I say good for you. If you want to make arguments that helmets do harm or cause more problems then they solve, i say grow up and take responsibity for yourself. No one with a 5th grade reading skill and common sense can make that argument.
van12 July 5, 2011 10:30 PM
I normally stay out of these things, but it's hard to read this stuff on what I consider a respectable publication. Not wearing gear risks the lives of motorcyclists and the well being of our loved ones. I think leading organizations such as motorcycle-usa have a responsibility to refrain from supporting the pointless ignorance that taints motorcycle culture especially when it has such serious consequences as this. So I'm very clear-- I think articles such as these have blood on their hands. This isn't another story with a hero just a matyr for ignorance leaving behind sad family friends.