It’s time. It’s time to rewrite the false narrative that has been perpetuated by opponents of a universal helmet law — to the benefit of only themselves and at the expense of the rest of us — that all motorcyclists oppose mandatory head protection.
Let me be clear. I am a biker and I fully support a universal helmet law as do many of my fellow riders.
It is a gross exaggeration to say “bikers” are against the helmet law. Sure, there are a few dozen vocal and visible “bikers” who show up at the Capitol every time this law is raised, and their long-time lobbyist is well-versed in defending their freedom to choose, but this group does not represent most motorcyclists.
There are many motorcyclists actively engaged in “Heads First CT,” a broad coalition of advocates for mandatory head protection. We, too, turned out at the Capitol — in support of the measure. I strongly stand by my testimony where I stated “The Connecticut Motorcycle Riders Association does not speak for us” when I urged our lawmakers to pass this bill.
But what bikers want — or don’t want — is not the end of the story because this is a bill that impacts everyone.
The greatest falsehood that must be rewritten is the suggestion that the outcome of a motorcycle crash impacts only the rider, so he or she should be allowed to decide whether to wear a helmet. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that motorcycle crashes which result in serious injury or death can lead to a lifetime of heartache, added responsibility and added expense for loved ones and the rest of us.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, motorcycle crashes resulting in death or serious injury cost Connecticut taxpayers $157 million dollars last year; $157 million dollars in lost productivity and healthcare costs. One person’s freedom to choose should not come at everyone else’s expense.
Last year about 50 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in Connecticut. That’s an average of one every week. Of those who died, about 72 percent were not wearing a helmet. The percentage of riders killed in motorcycle crashes is far less in New York and Massachusetts, both of which have a universal helmet law.
Everyone is aware of the increased risks on our roadways: drunk driving, drugged driving, distracted driving and aggressive driving that claim a growing number of lives each year. No one is at greater risk among them than a motorcyclist who is not wearing a helmet.
A recent AAA poll of Connecticut drivers showed nearly 75 percent support for a law that would require helmet use for ALL ages — findings that are consistent with similar polls AAA has done in years past. Yes, nearly 75 percent!
In fact, HB-7140 is probably more popular than most other measures currently being considered by our lawmakers.
The motorcycle helmet law has overwhelming support from the motoring public — including many ‘bikers’ — because it saves lives and saves taxpayers money! Please encourage your lawmakers to support this measure. It’s time!
Paul Siciliano of North Granby is a member of Heads First CT.
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Many of these polls are engineered for a particular outcome.
However, there still are a lot of people who don’t believe in the “Nanny State”, and don’t accept that “Government Knows Best” or that, “The people of Connecticut are much too stupid to wear head protection while speeding along in a vehicle without a metal box around it.”
I remember reading a great book “Tai-Pan” by James Clavell about the development of Hong Kong and the sailing ships in the 1840s, in which the Captain of the ship had to issue orders to his men (they were all men on the boat) that they had to clean their butts with paper after defecating. (They pooped off the netting in the front of the boat directly into the sea). Think we have progressed past that?
We as voters and citizens should begin to accept some responsibility and develop some respect for ourselves. Do we really need some bureaucrat who hasn’t ridden a bike in 40 years issuing lectures and barking orders, or can we think for ourselves?
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