West Virginia, Tennessee Helmet Laws

March 25, 2009

All Posts, News

I you plan to ride in either West Virginia or Tennessee this summer don’t forget to wear your special plastic hat.

Bills to end mandatory helmet laws in both states died this week. Both bills lost to the argument that letting bikers go helmetless would cost everybody too much money.


In Tennessee House Bill 1511, which would have allowed adult motorcyclists to choose whether to wear a helmet or not failed for lack of interest Tuesday in the House Transportation Public Safety Subcommittee. Republican Representative Curry Todd, who sponsored the bill told the Associated Press he was “shocked that the panel didn’t even want to discuss the matter.”

Biker Rights Advocate Scott McColpin of the Concerned Motorcyclists of Tennessee (CMT) was quoted by blogger Jeff Woods of Village Voice Media as saying CMT opposed motorcycle helmets because, “We want to save lives.”

“Part of it is a simple matter of physics,” McColpin told Woods. “A four pound motorcycle helmet traveling at 50 mph is equivalent to a 200 pound impact. Our necks are not designed to support that kind of impact. Your body suddenly stops but your head doesn’t. That’s what killed Dale Earnhardt. Helmets are not saving lives.”

Woods, who is apparently the official spokesman for the People’s Politically Correct Dictatorship of Tennessee, cogently repudiated McColpin’s objection to helmets by calling it “complete bullshit.”

West Virginia

Meanwhile, across the mountains in West Virginia, even Governor Joe Manchin supported State Senator Jack Yost’s proposal to allow free, grown-up, combat veterans to decide whether they should wear a special, plastic hat every time they ride their motorcycles down to the corner.

But, Transportation Committee Chairman, Democrat John Unger, who apparently must answer to no one, pronounced that “Doctors from trauma centers from all over the state…” say “…that normally the average cost of a trauma cost would be around $200,000.” And with that the bill died.

You know, like every time you hear a bell ring it means an angel just got his wings? Well, now presumably every time you see a biker without a helmet you lose half the cost of your house.

The argument that the peaceful enjoyment of individual freedom constitutes an unacceptable “public burden” is one of the regular lines politicians use in support of helmet laws.

A Modest Proposal

And, possibly they have a point. Possibly everyone should wear a safety helmet and rope off each time he ascends or descends a set of stairs. Maybe every diner in every restaurant should be required under penalty of law to put on a full face helmet every time a waiter across the room opens a bottle of champagne.

And, maybe this would be a better country if more politicians were required to put big brass bells over their heads and hand out baseball bats. You know, so their constituents could let them know what they think of the job they are doing.

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