Motorcycle riding is risky. But then again so are many other activities including things done every day in the general course of just living. Risk management is determining what personal risk you are willing to take to pursue your passion whether it is motorcycle riding or skydiving or eating out or swimming.
Every year at the start of the summer riding season the helmet debate heats up. Some riders swear by helmets and would not ride around the block without one; others prefer to go lidless if the laws in their state allows for that.
Those who believe every motorcyclist should wear All the Gear All the Time (ATGATT) would like to see every state legislate helmet laws and perhaps even a national helmet law. But where do we draw the line when it comes to personal freedom of choice in our everyday lives?
The United States constitution was based on personal freedoms. Whether addressing freedom of speech or freedom of religion, the Founding Fathers felt that the citizenry had “certain unalienable rights.” Benjamin Franklin said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
Motorcyclists are not the ones who take risks. Let’s take a look at some other areas where government intrusion might need to take place.
Sunbathers, in their quest for bronzed skin, put themselves at risk for skin cancer every minute they are exposed to the sun. In 2010 the National Cancer Institute estimated deaths from melanoma in the United States was approximately 8,700. In comparison, deaths from all motorcycle accidents for 2010 were 4,376 according to the National Institutes of Health. Should the government shut down tanning salons, require all sun-block products be SPF 70 or above, and require ‘proper’ cover-up clothing at the beach?
How about one of the biggest threats to longevity – obesity? In an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association comes the staggering number that approximately 280,000 adults in the United States die each year as a direct result of being over-weight. How well would a law be received if the government limited food intake? How readily would citizens agree to a calorie maximum for the day based on age, height, and gender? Would the government then go after and shut down places like fast food restaurants and bakeries?
So where will it end? Will you allow your government to first legislate mandatory helmet usage and then maybe a noise threshold for motorcycles or maybe require safety education for all riders regardless of riding experience or even someday a limit the number of motorcycles that can be registered?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a good article on the importance of riding gear. It is comprehensive and informative. As a rider who usually gears up for rides, this author recognizes the importance of gear. However, what gear one wears should be as individual as the person.
One final note: This is not the Church of Protective Gear and no one comes here expecting a sermon. Your opinions are welcome but no preaching, please.