Helmet Culture War Continues

March 1, 2016

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Helmet Culture War Continues

The helmet culture war – the front in the culture wars that requires motorcyclists to wear special plastic hats – just entered its fiftieth year.

Forty-three years ago a Congressman named Stewart McKinney successfully sponsored an amendment to the National Highway Safety Act of 1966 that repealed the provision that compelled states enact helmet laws. McKinney convinced his fellow Congressmen by telling them, “My philosophy concerning helmets can be summed up in three words. It’s my head.”

That was then. This is now. Now it takes a village to protect your head.

Earlier this year, an Arizona State Representative named Randall Friese – he’s a Democrat from Tucson – introduced HB 2052 which would amend Arizona’s current helmet law, which requires persons “under eighteen years of age” to wear a helmet. Friese’s revision would read: “An operator or passenger of a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle shall wear at all times a protective helmet on the operator’s or passenger’s head in an appropriate manner. The protective helmet shall be safely secured while the operator or passenger is operating or riding on the motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle.”

New Fee

Arizona motorcycle enthusiasts can avoid wearing a helmet while they ride if they pay an as yet undetermined fee when they register their bikes. If the law passes the amount of that fee will be determined by the Director of  the Arizona Department of Transportation. Those fees will be deposited in the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund.

Under the proposed law, a policeman can’t stop a motorcyclist simply because he is not wearing a helmet. He has to find another reason to stop a motorcyclist. But if he does stop a motorcyclist pursuant to, say a courtesy motorcycle safety inspection, or for an unsafe lane change, or because he observes the biker’s front tire touching a white stop line he can cite any motorcyclist who hasn’t paid the proposed fee to ride helmet free down to the nearest convenience store.


Friese, a “trauma surgeon,” proposes “a civil penalty of five hundred dollars” for not paying the requisite fee before getting stopped by the police without a helmet. And, “two hundred dollars of each civil penalty collected shall be deposited…in the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund and three hundred dollars of each civil penalty collected shall be deposited” in a “spinal and head injuries trust fund.”

The law hasn’t attracted much public scrutiny so far. Last month Friese told Cronkite News, “I believe, and I listen to the motorcycle riders saying ‘we want to choose,’ I don’t believe it is a right to not wear your helmet. I believe it is a privilege, just as driving is a privilege.”

Since Arizona seems to be among the most libertarian of all the states, Friese’s bill wouldn’t seem to have a much of a chance. But it is probably less likely to pass if you know about it in advance.


58 Responses to “Helmet Culture War Continues”

  1. Parsifal Says:

    @ Ol’Goat….. but here is the “thing,” that puts this all in the “Law,” gray area ????…. I paid/pay for that privilege/right. It would look like if it was “Free,” it would be a privilege, but since we “Pay,” for it?…. its a right. Therefore? The Judge has absolutely no business in my business nor the cops in my business. Right? Right?……????

    Okay! you say potato, I say government SCAM. {Sorry Goat, I’ll go back to my “thoughts,” and close the lid.}

  2. Ol'Goat Says:

    If you are paying something (like a drivers license application fee or whatever) then you are applying for a privilege. If someone has a right to do something they just do it, why would they give up that right and trade it in for a privilege for which permission has to be granted? Maybe because it makes us (you) feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or perhaps we like the reflective plastic card with our pretty picture on it. Did you do that because someone told you that you had to?
    States (in cooperation with feds at times) have a long history of stealing rights and selling those stolen rights back to the same people they stole them from in the form of a privilege. If you applied for and accepted the privilege then you better follow the vehicle code.

  3. xplor Says:

    We wore helmets long before any laws were passed. It saved lives. All children up to age 25 should wear helmets. By that time your brain is fully developed and you can decide what is best for you.

  4. Phuquehed Says:

    xplor and his bullshit…deeper and stinkier, coming to a comedy club near you soon.

  5. The Kraut Says:

    Helmets MAY give a rider wearing one in an accident a small benefit…

    Your viewing could be open casket.

    I prefer my old stahlhelm…looks good and has the right attitude.

    Respects to those who warrant respect

    The Kraut

  6. T Hell Says:

    I’de trust a fart after a 7eleven burrito before believing one word out of your piehole….

  7. Shovelhead Says:

    You need to wear that helmet all day long. Don’t think your brain is fully developed yet!

  8. NCRider Says:

    HaHa Shovelhead. You beat me to it. So this explains it. Xplor must be under 25.


    Justice For The Waco Hostages.

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