VIRGINIANS MANDATORY HELMET LAW

AN OPINION

As Virginians, we enjoy the freedom to engage in many activities. Even though some of these activities may involve some risks, our state government gives its adult citizens the freedom to make informed decisions about their lives.

Adults in the Commonwealth may use tobacco products, consume alcohol, carry firearms and engage in many other activities that MAY pose some risk. However, for some reason, adult motorcyclists in Virginia are not allowed to choose whether or not to wear a motorcycle helmet.

Thirty states have enough faith in their adult citizens to allow this "Freedom of Choice". Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida have all recently joined the list of states that believe that their adult citizens have enough responsibility to make their own decisions. Shouldn't Virginia be next?

On July 1, 2000, a new law went into effect in Virginia. Children under the age of 16 are not allowed to ride in the back of pick-up trucks. The General Assembly is attempting to protect children, while realizing that older teens and adults can safely and responsibly participate in this activity. Adults can make more educated decisions than children, and therefore do not need as much protection from the state.

There are some that say that as long as one life is saved, anything is worth the price. Whether or not helmets save lives is debatable. The point is that only one half of one percent of traffic accidents involve motorcycles. (Motorcycles account for approximately 2% of vehicles on the road.) Automobile accidents result in a much greater percentage of injuries (including head injuries). Why aren't automobile operators and passengers required to wear helmets? Fifteen percent of all traffic deaths are pedestrians. Shouldn't they be required to wear helmets and body armour? How about hunting accidents? Shouldn't hunters be required to wear military style Kevlar helmets and bullet proof vests? As many or more people are killed in farming accidents in Virginia as there are on motorcycles. What special attire should we force upon the farmers.

The government cannot keep everyone safe from everything that MIGHT happen to them. Motorcyclists should not be singled out, just as these other groups should not be singled out. Frankly, the other groups mentioned wouldn't stand for it. Adults are smart enough to decide when or if to wear helmets.

Dave Sutton
SuperglideShHd@aol.com

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