Freedom Vs. Law

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Freedom vs. Law Everyone in the United States has either seen a motorcycle, ridden a motorcycle, or knows someone who has. There are motorcycle riders all across the Country, but only 19 of the 50 states require head protection. Should these riders in these 19 states have a choice to wear head protection or should it remain mandatory? Since 1968 a law was past that states motorcyclists of all ages are required to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. However over these 33 years, 25 states only require the use of helmets if under the age of 19 or 21 (varies on which state.) Only 3 states Colorado, Illinois, and Iowa don't have a helmet law at all, but the rest of the country require helmets no matter what the age (Helmet Use Laws 1.) In the year 1986, there were 859 people killed in a motorcycle related accident in the state of California alone, and 28,997 driver/passenger that required medical attention.

By the year 1998 these statistics dropped close to 75%, only 195 people were killed, and only 6,242 needed medical attention (Motorcycle Head Injury 1) During these 12 years helmets were still required to be worn by all ages. Then what made the dramatic drop in casualties/injuries? The Government wants us to think that it was the enforcement of the helmet law that dropped the rate or deaths.

However, my Junior and Senior year in High School I helped teach and operate the Motorcycle safety class. We spent little time on the construction and the importance of helmets, but we spent almost an entire day on how you were to try to land if you were to get into a accident. Representative Tim Walberg states "The key to preventing motorcycle fatalities is education, not helmets"(The State News 1.) Nearly everyone that isn't an ABATE (American Bikers Aiming Towards Education) member doesn't know all of the picky little things that the Helmets law has in it. The Michigan helmet law states that "A person operating or riding on a motorcycle, and any person less than 19 years f age operating a moped on a public thoroughfare shall wear a crash helmet on his or her head. Crash helmets shall be approved by the department of state police"(Michigan Helmet Law in Disarray.) Also the Department of State police must provide a list of DOT approved helmets on issuing of any citations. Since the number of motorcycle makers has increased rapidly in the past 10 years then it is getting very hard to maintain a accurate list of DOT approved helmets.

Therefore the Department of State Police has given out thousands of false helmet tickets since a bandana or hair can be used as some sort of protection. Getting more and more frustrated from the dismissal of many helmet tickets Sgt. Thad Peterson of the State Police states "If you want to know which helmets are approved, it's the ones approved by the (U.S.) Department of Transportation"(Helmet Law legal road 3.) What he doesn't realize is that several helmet stores have a stand full of "DOT approved" stickers.

Everyone knows that it is illegal not to wear a seat belt in any vehicle, but they are provided in all vehicles. However Helmets are required to be worn but are not supplied by the factory. In addition to buying a helmet you must take it and get it approved by the DOT and then it is legal to wear. A hospital in Alabama says that they have had more casualties from those wearing helmets than those who haven't. Even here in Michigan more people have died from wearing a helmet because it usually breaks the neck immediately on impact. Were the skull doesn't break the neck but acts as a little support for the neck. I would take the chance of the support versus the break any day. If you owned a motorcycle and you needed to just travel down the road a couple of miles and you didn't want your head to sweat in a helmet from the sun beating down would you want the choice to wear a helmet? I know that I wouldn't want the state or the country to tell me that I no longer have the right to make my own decisions about my safety. After all isn't this the land of freedom?

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