Letter to the Editor

Baker's info 'flawed'

Monday, April 25, 2005

Dear Editor,

Sen. Baker's information is "flawed" ["Baker: State's helmet law 'flawed'" (http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1094742.html)].

I have been a motorcycle safety instructor and have taught exactly the same curriculum here in Nebraska which I have taught in California, Alabama and Pennsylvania.

This is the same curriculum taught in the states (Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Wyoming and South Dakota) surrounding Nebraska. None of these states' training is more comprehensive, or less, than here in Nebraska. Saying so is a popular strategy being espoused by LB 70's supporters and ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments).

While I support the funding increases to our state's motorcycle safety and education fund and encourage more and continuing training, I cannot do so at the expense of more dead or disabled motorcyclists. This is simply a bad tradeoff and I can't believe that anyone would buy the argument. Most states use the carrot of a waiver of all DMV testing when a student successfully completes a state-approved motorcycle safety class.

That is how the current laws read here in Nebraska. While some other states have recently modified their helmet laws to require training for new riders and those under the age of 18 or 21 in exchange for the privilege of riding without a helmet, the results have inevitably been a dramatic increase in fatalities.

The proposed LB 70 exempts 98 percent of the current licensed riders due to their age and 80 percent - 90 percent of this group has never received any comprehensive training.

Wrapping this legislation up in the flag of "rights" and "comprehensive training" is a sham. Senators Smith and Baker should call this legislation what it truly is: A vocal minority that wants permission from the state to ride their motorcycles without a helmet regardless of its impact on society and the taxpayers of Nebraska. They want to ride unhelmeted simply because they want to.

David K. Halen,

via e-mail

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