A California Highway Patrol officer named Adam Griffiths stopped and detained an unnamed motorcyclist dressed up in a bunny suit yesterday.
A CHP public information officer named Brian Pennings explained to news hungry reporters, “Griffiths stopped the motorcyclist on westbound Interstate 8 at Jackson Drive for not wearing a helmet. The guy was on his way to a charity event.” According to Pennings, Griffiths radioed back to police headquarters, “I’m stopping the Easter Bunny.”
The Bunny was riding an immaculate, red, Ural with a sidecar. Urals are a Russian version of World War II era BMWs.
Another Patrol Officer took a photo of the stop. The photo appeared in numerous newspapers and on numerous television shows in North America and Europe this morning. Easter is usually a slow news day.
The riders name was not released and because he was not cited, but only lectured, his identity is not public information.
Pennings elaborated, “Griffiths told him it was a serious situation and that it wasn’t a joke. He explained to him the safety ramifications of not having a helmet.” The detaining officer also told the Easter Bunny that “his outfit was a visual impairment, he was not able to be aware of his surroundings, and therefore he threatened his own safety, and that of others.”
Helmet laws are an indirect consequence of Ralph Nader’s 1966 book Unsafe At Any Speed which prompted a national debate over “slaughter on the highways.” Nader’s book inspired the National Highway Safety Act of 1966 which mandated standardized bumper heights, padded dashboards, seatbelts and motorcycle helmets. Because the federal government threatened to withhold highway funds from states which did not comply, every state except California passed helmet laws between 1967 and 1975.
Starting in 1971, numerous organizations including Easyriders magazine, the American Motorcyclists Association and the Modified Motorcycle Association protested the new helmet laws. A bikers rights group called A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments was organized to protest helmet laws and in 1975, after Congressional hearings, Congress voted to repeal the helmet law requirement from the Highway Safety Act. Over the next four years, 28 states dumped their helmet laws. Today only 18 states require adult motorcycle riders to wear a helmet whether they like it or not.
California finally enacted a helmet law in 1992, largely thanks to the efforts of a very evil state assemblyman named Dick Floyd. The Easter Bunny would have been allowed to joke about motorcycle helmets with policemen until then. Three court cases in 1993 and 1994 (Buhl v. Hannigan, Bianco v. California Highway Patrol and Easyriders v. Hannigan) allow California riders to wear helmets that are not certified by the Department of Transportation if the helmet is adorned with a DOT sticker and the biker sincerely states that he was unaware that his helmet is not compliant with DOT standards.