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With summer in full gear and motorcycles filling the Iowa roadways, the helmet debate has spurred its ugly head once again.

Do helmets save lives? Absolutely.

Should legislation be passed to require them? No.
Motorcyclists should always wear helmets. And proper boots. And full leather. The margin for error while driving a motorcycle is slim, and those who ride should do all they can to minimize damage to themselves and their passengers. That’s just smart planning.

But with four fatalities for every 10,000 registered motorcycle registrations in Iowa, is a helmet law really necessary? Couldn’t the same argument be made for boating fatalities, which are similar in numbers in specific categories? People are injured on riding lawn mowers each year, too. Should they be required to wear helmets?

We could go on with even more ridiculous comparisons, but helmet legislation for motorcycles is equally absurd.

Few people are indifferent about motorcycles — most either love them or hate them. Many of those who hate them have never been on a motorcycle and never will. They only see the accident reports on the 10 o’clock news and shiver. The sites of motorcycle crashes are ugly, but death isn’t pretty in any accident.
Motorcycle riders should know what is best for them, and most do. Even so, some make poor decisions, as do some who drive cars, ride snowmobiles and pilot small airplanes.

Motorcycle groups question the motivation behind those who push helmet laws. Is their goal to save lives, or are these efforts a half step to ban motorcycles altogether? They fear the latter.

Helmets save lives; that is true, especially at slower speeds. But in high speed motorcycle accidents, the only thing a helmet determines is whether the funeral is an open casket or a closed one.

Setting fear aside, the fatality rate in motorcycle accidents is still quite low. Smart riders will still choose to wear helmets and be prepared for the worst; others will continue to make poor decisions. Stupid is as stupid does. No law will ever change that. CV

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