Every time I play sports with a motorcyclist in Maine or New Hampshire who rides without a helmet, I want to laugh.
“How stupid,” cries my inner voice.
Yeah, I know, it’s about individual freedoms… and looking cool.
Moreover, it is a political reality that the intellect cannot be legislated, so these two states don’t bother to try.
I always wear a helmet… on a bike.
Ten years ago a woman hit me sideways with her car and I landed on my head, no worse for wear except the logo on my helmet was worn away from the skid.
Then, last summer, while descending a hill at 30 mph, I cut a pothole and flew over the handlebars, hitting the ground square on my skull. The result was a mild concussion, but without this head protection the injury would have been much more serious.
The point is, if that can happen on a bike, why would anyone consider riding a motorcycle ã that goes many times faster ã without, as they cynically label, a brain bucket?
Hence my surprise that Pennsylvania, under pressure from the state’s vain bikers, repealed its helmet law.
It should be a personal choice, they argued, echoing the same defense used by opponents of seatbelt legislation.
And I’m going to buy that up to a point.
But the reality is that common sense issues aside, people injured because they disregard safety devices – helmets or seat belts – cost us money.
And much more than they had used protection options.
In order not to trample on anyone’s constitutionally protected freedom of choice, I have an option.
In some states, HMOs actually pay only a fraction of medical costs for anyone injured in an accident in which they are not wearing their seatbelt.
Why not pay them NOTHING?
Ditto for drunk drivers…seatbelt or no.
Why not bankrupt heavy drinkers for medical bills?
What about bikers who prefer to ride without a helmet?
Have them sign a waiver that gives them the freedom to pay ALL of their medical bills.
(Chuck Pollock is a Times Herald sports editor)