At the risk of offending some of my two-wheeling friends, I’d like to address a recent report about a motorcyclist who was killed while riding without a helmet in a protest against mandatory helmet laws. The police reported that had this rider been wearing a helmet, he would have survived. My condolences go out to his family. It’s a tragic loss.
But the protest itself baffles me.
Two years ago, I had a motorcycle accident. I was traveling 60 mph down a highway when a truck pulled out in front of me. Luckily, I only minor injuries but it could have been much worse.
When I surveyed the damage after my accident, I noticed a long gash across my helmet. That gash could have been on my head but luckily, I was protected from a more serious injury by my helmet.
Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is a good idea. The same way that it’s a good idea to slow down in a school zone or to look both ways before you cross the street. I don’t know why a rider would think otherwise. The helmet law is not based on some sort of unreasonable attempt to control behavior without reason.
I appreciate that some motorcyclists feel that being required to wear a helmet is somehow taking away their right to choose. However, the real issue is about doing the right thing rather than simply being told to do the right thing.
I don’t like being told to drive 55 mph on a large highway when there’s no one else on the road but it’s the right thing to do. I’d prefer to “roll through” a stop sign when there is clearly no one else coming but that’s not the right thing to do.
I’m a big believer in taking responsibility for doing the right thing. Take care of your health because it’s the right thing to do. Be kind to others because it’s the right thing to do. Tell the cashier that she undercharged you because it’s the right thing to do.
Ironically, the group that protested the helmet law was called American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. Their mission is to “promote motorcycle safety, awareness, and eduction.” On their website, their statement on helmet laws reads, “Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents.”
Of course helmets do not prevent accidents. But, in many situations, they do prevent serious injury.
Wearing a helmet is just the right thing to do – for ourselves, our families, and our friends. To me that’s what it means to Do it Well.