Monday, August 08, 2005


I rode motorcycles for nearly 25 years before my last wreck was almost the end of me. Mrs. rdr kindly informed me that if I got another bike she would kill me before it did. I still miss motorcycling terribly, but I am resigned to the fact that I can't ride like I used to (damned reflexes) and I won't "cruise" the boulevard on some junk wagon with a beer gut and a phony weekend tattoo. Anyway, this story drives me plain nuts:

Motorcycle Deaths Up After Helmet Law Repeal, Federal Study Shows

MIAMI (AP) - A federal study has found motorcycle fatalities in Florida increased more than 81 percent, and the number of deaths for riders younger than 21 nearly tripled, in three years after state lawmakers repealed a law requiring riders to wear a helmet.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study also found injuries have become more expensive to treat. The average hospital cost to treat a head injury was $45,602, more than four times the $10,000 insurance non-helmeted riders are required to carry. ...

In the three years before the July 1, 2000, repeal of the helmet law, 9 percent of the 515 motorcyclists killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet. Of the 35 motorcyclists younger than 21 killed in crashes during those three years, 26 percent were not wearing helmets.

In the three years after the repeal, 61 percent of the 933 fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet. Of the 101 riders younger than 21 who were killed in those three years, 45 percent were not wearing a helmet....

Head-injury hospital admissions rose 80 percent and the cost for hospitals to treat head, brain or skull injuries more than doubled, from $21 million to $50 million, according to the study.
Not wearing a helmet is one of the stupidest things a rider can do. I've been listening to the "helmet laws suck" crowd for decades talk about "their right" to go lidless and their psuedo-science argument how if you came down on your head in just the right manner, the helmet could break your neck. Maybe that's so, but at least there'd be a open casket for your loved ones. I've heard all the arguments that a helmet won't save you at speeds over 13 miles per hour. Could be, but I've slid on loose gravel and dumped the thing going 5 miles an hour. If it wasn't for my helmet I wouldn't be here ranting today because my head would have split open like a ripe grapefuit and there was no one for miles around to find me. I also took a tumble down a road at sixty when some idiot in a van decided that his own lane wasn't big enough for him. I broke my collar bone, my leg, both my feet and left a couple of square yards of skin on the asphalt. Thanks to my full face helmet, however, my face and noggin were still in pristine condition. Lesson learned. You ride long enough and sooner or later you are going to hit the ground...hard. It's always quite a surprise.

Some people just don't get it, however. From a companion story in the Miami Herald (*&%$#&@ registration required):

But James ''Doc'' Reichenbach, a lobbyist for the motorcycle group that successfully lobbied legislators in 2000 to lift the helmet requirement, said the federal agency is biased against helmetless riders. He said the increase in deaths can be largely attributed to the increasing popularity of motorcycle riding.

''It's the same old rhetoric. There's nothing new here,'' said Reichenbach, a lobbyist with the Florida chapter of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, which believes bikers should be able to choose whether to wear a helmet. ``They could tell me that the sun is shining, and I wouldn't believe them; I'd have to look.''
This is a perfect example of why you should never trust anybody who goes by the nickname "Doc." He's probably not too bright. May we have the figures, please.

The report suggests that some of the increase in motorcycle deaths can be attributed to increased ridership in the state -- but even when that factor is taken into account, the non-helmeted fatality rate per 10,000 registered motorcyclists increased from 0.7 fatalities in 1998 to 6.1 in 2002, the report says.
Way to spin, "Doc." But then maybe if you were an emergency room physician trying to put some kid's head back together instead being a lobbyist who refuses to believe "them" your own head wouldn't be stuck so far up your a$$. Then again, if I was the lobbyist who pushed for a bill that appears now to have contributed to an 81 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities, I wouldn't admit I was wrong either. Instead I'd probably go live in a hole and pray for forgiveness. And by the way"Doc," who's picking up the extra $35,000 in medical bills? How about the cost for long term care? We know who, don't we Doc?

That's all I'm going to say on the matter.
Please boys and girls. Don't listen to these jackasses. Put on your lid.


portia said...

Florida...figures. A few more years of this insanity along with the people building--and rebuilding--their homes in the path of hurricanes, and the damn state will bankrupt us all.

You broke both your feet? Scary thought: spd, spdless. Thank God for women, and the boys er, men who listen to them.

spd rdr said...

Actually, I didn't really break my feet, exactly. I smashed all of my toes. Don't wearing sneakers on a bike either.

Cassandra said...

Well I'm glad to hear you say that mr rdr.

One of the things my spousal unit always asks new Marines is how they get to work, and if the answer is "a Motorcycle" and they have a wife or kids, then they get a lecture on helmets and safety. The thing they don't know is the huge fights we had over this issue when we were first married, poor as churchmice, and had a baby in college and someone who will remain nameless wanted a motorcycle to ride to school but thought it was "too dangerous" for me to be go to VA state trooper school :) I guess risk is subjective...

And they hate his guts, but after you've seen enough young idiots die or lose their ability to earn a living, it tends to stick in your craw. His thing is they can listen or not listen (more often not) but he's at least going to say it.

Cassandra said...

And I used to ride my bike barefoot. Really dumb - a friend broke all the toes on one foot that way.

SCOTUS said...

Nothing is more butch looking than leather clad motorcyclists.

Cricket said...

Leathers, helmet and gloves. Standard.
The Engineer rode a bike and sold it before he went overseas. I am deeply grateful that he was a safe and alert rider. He used it to get to National Guard training. It was 150 miles away one way over California's interstates.

Cassandra said...

They're a lot of fun, aren't they, Cricket?

I got in trouble in high school when one of my then-boyfriends took me for a bike-ride all over the hills near our house in Maryland. My Dad found out when one of our nosy neighbors saw us. I thought he'd have apoplexy.

But what a ride... :)