The question is whether motorcyclists should wear helmets, not whether there should be helmet laws. It’s okay to “agree” that riders should wear helmets and still “disagree” that helmets should be mandatory by law! Whether or not one wears a helmet should forever be the individual’s choice. This article states that helmets are a good idea and hopefully makes a few points regarding why wearing a helmet makes sense. Facts, figures, and available research on helmet use can be construed to argue for or against, so the following is just one person’s opinion.
Reasoning that people should wear helmets while motorcycling is similar to the question of whether seat belts should be worn in a car or truck. Although on rare occasions a seat belt may cause harm in a crash, chances are far greater than the seat belt will save the person from more severe injuries or death. The probability that a helmet worn in a motorcycle crash will save a life is far greater than the likelihood that the helmet would cause harm. I’ll side with possibility on this one. As for the common excuses for not wearing helmets, read on:
Limited Vision and Hearing
If your helmet is limiting your vision, then you’re not wearing the right one. This is based on personal experience. For years I wore a full face helmet, and my limit of visibility was that I needed to turn my head farther to check blind spots and to back up my bike. To back up the bike, I found myself turning to the point that I needed to turn my shoulders also to see directly behind me, making it hard to maintain balance while pushing the bike backward. I accepted this difficulty as being worth it for the protection I was getting from the helmet. After many years of riding, on the recommendation of a safety class instructor, I tried a half-helmet and found it solved my backing problem and made it easier to check the blind spots when riding. The full face helmet may offer better face protection in a crash, but in my case, it’s a personal choice and finding a balance between head protection and visibility. Each person is different. The point: helmets are available in a wide enough variety of styles to suit a wide variety of individual requirements. The same answer applies to the “impaired hearing” concern.
Although quality helmets are made with vents to help with this, there’s no denying it can still get sweaty under there. Again, I choose to deal with the occasional sweaty head and “bad hair” for the payoff of protecting my head in a crash. If I’m ever in an accident where my head hits the pavement or another object, I’m more comfortable with the thought of sweaty head and possible concussion as opposed to an air-cooled head with a smashed skull.
Helmets Don’t Look Cool
I’m willing to sacrifice looks for safety because I value living far more than I care about someone else’s opinion of whether I look good or not. If you’re riding only because you want to look cool, then you’re missing the point of riding. Again, there are so many styles of helmets available that not looking good is, let’s face it, a lame excuse.
Isn’t that like saying you can’t afford the maintenance for your car? Consider it cost of ownership. You can afford the motorcycle; you can afford the helmet. Although a quality helmet can range in price from $80 to $300 or more, that’s still in many cases less expensive than a leather jacket or just one of the many “accessories” we buy for our bikes. Think about the value and how “expensive” the helmet is, if a day comes when that helmet saves your life or prevents a permanent brain injury.
I’m not going to be in an accident: that “it won’t happen to me” attitude is unrealistic. Even the most experienced and advanced riders will encounter flat or blown tires, road hazards, mechanical problems and other drivers who cause accidents. There’s always the possibility of something happening that’s beyond your control. Again it’s a matter of protecting yourself against the probability of a crash no matter how good of a rider you may be.
If you decide it makes sense to wear a helmet, keep in mind that helmets work better when they fit correctly, are DOT/and or SNELL approved to meet established safety standards, and when they’re worn on the head as opposed to riding on the helmet lock or elsewhere on the bike. Helmets should also be replaced regularly. There are resources available everywhere for those who want to learn more. All the above points are simply a helmet advocate’s point of view, written with respect for the right of a person to choose not to wear a helmet, no matter the reason. A person of sound mind and mature age should have the right to choose whether or not to take this safety precaution while riding.