When NOBLE Takes Over Your Life

By Scott Cochran, Editor
I was tempted to dig through the morgue where we keep our back issues to see how many times I’ve written an editorial on helmets.

But then I realized this rant isn’t about helmets, it’s more about  pushing back against the “nanny state” that is attacking our personal liberties with legislation designed “for our own good.”

At least that’s the position of the National Transportation Safety Board is taking.

Calling for all 50 states to enact mandatory helmet requirements for motorcycles, Christopher Hart, Vice Chairman of the NTSB (A Federal agency with little or no Congressional oversight) said that motorcycle fatalities have doubled, while total traffic deaths have declined, and that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is a “public health issue.”

I’m throwing a BS flag on that one Mr. Hart.

There’s nothing inherently dangerous to the non-riding public if a motorcyclist opts not to wear protective gear.   It’s not contagious or likely to cause innocent bystanders harm.

However, let me state unequivocally that if you choose to ride without a helmet or protective gear, you are not exercising good common sense.

But, for full disclosure, there have been times when yours truly has ridden without a helmet. I don’t make it a habit, but it happens.

So, it’s not the wearing of the helmet that I oppose, it’s our Federal government (which represents us) using its power to force individual states to usurp personal freedoms, and use taxpayer (our money) funds to accomplish the agenda.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims the public pays when motorcyclists go down without helmets. “Only slightly more than half of motorcycle crash victims have private health insurance coverage. For patients without private insurance, a majority of medical costs are paid by the government.”

With the passage of Obama Care, everyone will be covered, but premiums of non-riders will increase to cover motorcycle accident victims.

Can you see the logical conclusion to this agenda?

If your activity causes my health insurance premiums to increase, and the government subsidizes health insurance, then it becomes a “public health issue” and government has an obligation to regulate it, or ban it outright.

What disturbs me the most is not what the NTSB is doing, but the absence of any outrage among civil libertarians over this.

Society, (aka The Government) does not own my body. It does not own my thoughts nor what I generate from my thoughts and actions.

As an adult I am (and rightly so) free to engage in various forms of self-destructive behavior.

I can smoke or drink alcohol to excess. I can eat whatever I want as much as I can afford and refuse to exercise. I do not have to visit a doctor or a dentist. My teeth can rot out and my body fall apart if I so choose.

I can ride horses and climb mountains without the first piece of safety gear. I can operate a chain saw without a minute of safety instruction. I can go for a swim in any river or ocean without having to wear a flotation device, and I don’t have to know how to swim.

I can have casual sex with as many strangers as I like (and risk contracting AIDS) without having to wear protection.

All of these activities are inherently dangerous to my personal health, so what’s different about riding a motorcycle without a helmet?

Not much, if you think about it.

The sad fact is that If we remain complacent, and do not defend personal liberty, no matter if it affects us or not, most of what active, fun loving adults enjoy will be banned as “too dangerous” by some new alphabet nanny agency. Most likely the National Organization for Boosting Life Expectancy or NOBLE in gov speak.

One day future generations will look back and wonder how the world survived with idiots smoking in public, sweet tea, fried food and motorcycle riders who rode without ballistic armor, airbags and full face helmets.

Sadly, they’ll never know what they missed.

Ride safe and always take the road less traveled.

Feds Say They Will Pressure States to Require Motorcycle Helmet Use

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal safety officials called on states Thursday to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in fatalities since the late 1990s.

Motorcycle deaths have increased over the last decade even as other traffic fatalities have declined, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

From the website jalopnik.com

There were 4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined. That’s nearly twice the fatalities a decade ago. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

Board members said at a news conference they were elevating the helmet recommendation to their annual list of “most wanted” safety improvements to spotlight the issue and pressure governors and state legislatures to act.

“People have to get outraged about this safety issue that is causing so many deaths needlessly,” NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart said.

Twenty states make all motorcycle riders wear helmets, the board said. Most states have limited helmet requirements, and three states — Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire — have no requirement.

Nearly all states had universal helmet laws when they were necessary for full federal highway funding. But in the mid-1990s Congress repealed the requirement, leaving the issue up to states to decide. As states began repealing or weakening helmet laws, fatalities rose.

The safety board can’t force states to enact tougher helmet laws or offer money as an incentive. Its primary power is its bully pulpit.

Deborah Hersman, the safety board’s chair, promised to keep pressure on states and, if that doesn’t work, to seek help from Congress or the administration.

The call or tougher helmet laws comes after a new report showing the United States lagging behind nearly every other wealthy country in reducing traffic fatalities, despite bringing them down 9.7 percent last year to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways, representing a yearly decline of 9.3 percent.

The dramatic declines were likely due to a sour economy as people drove less, rather than changing their behavior, the report by the Transportation Research Board said. Fatalities are likely to increase as the economy improves, researchers said.

Other countries are doing better. The U.S. had the lowest fatality rate in the world in the 1970s, but Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and the United Kingdom have surpassed the United States.

While fatalities dropped 19 percent in the U.S. from 1995 to 2009, they dropped 52 percent in France and 38 percent in the United Kingdom. Rates fell 50 percent in 15 high-income countries with available traffic data.

“The United States can no longer claim to rank highly in road safety by world standards,” the report said.

Fatalities have fallen in other nations partly through programs that sometimes generate opposition in the U.S such as speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets. Thousands of lives could be saved if such programs were widely adopted in the U.S., the report said.

More frequent checkpoints nationwide to detect drunk drivers could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives annually, researchers estimated. Systematic speed control programs could save 1,000 to 2,000 lives, and mandatory helmet rules for motorcyclists could mean 450 less deaths a year. Another 1,200 deaths would be avoided if seat belt use rose to 90 percent from 85 percent.

“Where is the public outcry against these preventable deaths?” Hersman asked.

“Americans should strive for zero fatalities on the road. We should be leading, rather than following the international community when it comes to roadway design and safety measures,” he said. “But it is a sad fact that the U.S. is in their rear view mirror and falling further behind the rest of the world when it comes to highway safety.”

Clinton Oster, an environment and public policy professor at the Indiana University-Bloomington and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said there was no “silver bullet” program that stood out.

“I think we need to be much more systematic in developing clear goals, measuring results and making that information public,” Oster said. Other countries “work very hard to demonstrate these techniques actually do save lives.”