Head protection vital, regardless of helmet laws

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Helmets are in the news again, along with important questions of personal safety and responsibility going up against issues of personal freedom.

All sides seem to agree, however, that special care needs to be taken when it comes to the safety of young people.

The first case is a new proposal to eliminate Nebraska's motorcycle helmet law, which failed to advance Wednesday but which may come up again before legislators adjourn. The idea of requiring motorcyclists to carry long-term care and extra medical insurance in exchange for removing the helmet requirement was nixed after it was found that such specialized insurance may not be available.

Both sides of the issue seem to agree, however, that riders under 21 be required to wear helmets, as well as requiring all riders to wear eye protection and to revisit the decision to repeal the helmet law in five years.

While most motorcyclists rarely have the chance to find out how well their helmets work, other, younger people -- football players -- put their headgear to the test every time they put it on.

A congressional committee is conducting hearings on sports- and recreation-related concussions, which amount to as many as 3.8 million injuries in the United States each year.

According to an Associated Press story, at least a half-dozen states are considering measures to toughen restrictions on young athletes returning to play after head injuries.

In Washington, for example, athletes under 18 who show concussion symptoms can't take the field again without a licensed health care provider's written approval. California and Pennsylvania have similar bills pending.

The Brain Injury Association of America has some surprising points to make about concussions.

* Most concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness.

* You can sustain a concussion by an indirect blow elsewhere in the body that transmits an "impulsive" force to the head.

* Multiple concussions can have cumulative and long-lasting life changes.

* Concussions typically do not appear in neuroimaging studies such as MRI or CT scans.

* During 2001-05, children and youth ages 5-18 years accounted for 2.4 million sports-related emergency department visits annually, of which 6 percent involved a concussion.

* Among children and youth ages 5-18 years, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions include bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities and soccer.

No one is suggesting we give up athletic events or riding motorcycles, but regardless of the law, taking good care of your head -- and that includes wearing a helmet when it's appropriate -- is the smart thing to do.

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  • The odds of survival in a motorcycle accident are 50/50 ... a helmet won't save the entire rest of your body...let them choose to wear it or not.

    -- Posted by marlin on Thu, Feb 4, 2010, at 6:17 PM
  • I live in a state that has no helmet law. You must wear eye protection but helmets are not required. I do see alot of folks wearing helmets and most of them seem to be of the older generation. My comment is simple. If we let them choose to wear it or not, can we choose to not pay for their health related expenses when they crash and splatter themselves enough to make them a vegetable for the rest of their lives? Helmets save lives. Seatbelts save lives. When someone is injured and has permanent disability because of an accident usually can't afford the cost of healthcare so the taxpayer ends up bailing them out. I say every state should have a helmet law and every state should have a seatbelt law. If you don't want to wear a helmet, don't buy a motorcycle!

    -- Posted by McCook Supporter on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 12:06 PM
  • McCook Supporter,

    I too live in a state without a helmet law.

    Please do some research...check the survival rates of crashes with no helmets, as to those with helmets. The odds are if you smack your head on the pavement, or a car, at 50mph without a helmet you're dead...if you hit it with a helmet, it will probably protect you enough to leave you slightly brain damaged and not fully capable of supporting yourself. So why is it you are offended that 'taxpayers' have to pay for their disability, yet recommend enforcing something that increases the odds of someone being in said situation? Your whole post contradicts with itself..have you thought this out? It's one's choice as to whether or not they want to protect themselves further from just defensive driving...

    -- Posted by marlin on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 2:43 PM
  • Obviously, no one is researching! According to NHTSA statistics, 42% of dead bikers were NOT wearing helmets. Opps - doesn't that mean 58% WERE wearing helmets, and died anyway? Also according to NHTSA stats, if you're riding a Super Sport bike, beware: 78% of dead SS bikers WORE their helmet when they died! 6,000 bikers died in 2008. Humph, same number of people killed by drivers yakking on a cell phone while driving! And 50,000 CAR drivers will die from head injuries this year, according to the Brain Institute of America. And another 250,000 CAR drivers will suffer a TBI! Wow, shouldn't car drivers be wearing helmets, too? A visit to the American Motorcyclist Assoc. will reveal studies which say there is NO difference in how much public money is spent on motorcyclists vs. car drivers involved in an accident - NONE! Get off my bike and let me ride. There are bigger fish to fry! And before ya start y'er "I think..." stuff, please: actually DO some thinking before you write! Your emotions are getting in my way.

    -- Posted by KrashTestDumby on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 3:53 PM
  • Crash and splatter ourselves into a vegetative state????

    Well then you mind me not paying for others' healthcare if they get hurt playing football, or riding a bicycle, or smokers and drinkers whether it is a direct result of drinking or indirect (accident).

    The fact is, the society we live in thinks it can fool proof everything so that no one gets hurt or dies.

    This is realistically impossible. If anything it has made our society softer and less intelligent.

    The buffalo herd is good example. The herd is only as fast as the slowest animal. When that animal goes down they leave it, maintaining the speed of the herd and eventually becoming faster as they evolve. Humans on the other hand or tripping over themselves to slow everyone else down so that the biggest idiots in the world are safe from danger, leeading them to reproduce populate. I say this somewhat toungue-in-cheek.

    The helmet law is stupid, just like the seat belt law. If people aren't smart enough to protect themselves then tough.

    When am I going to see a ban on tobacco? That is really bad for you and it should just bannned in my oppinion. What about bars? No one walks to the bar that owns a car. Isn't everyone in there eventually going to drink and drive? Isn't that potentially dangerous and stupid? Not to mention illegal?

    What exactly does the helment law do other than deter riders around our state to our neighbors? Nothing. If you dump your bike into a car going 60 mph, you're probably dead anyway.

    And what about these kids playing football? They wear helmets and still get concussions. Maybe we should just outlaw football.

    I think you helmet law people need to start doing some research before you open your mouths and think first. No biker out here needs you to save us. You need to leave us alone and let us decide when and where we wear helmets. That goes for seat belts as well.

    I am appalled at the hypocrisy of this nation. How many of you helmet law proponents drink and smoke and don't wear your seat belts on your way to the bank or to the store?

    You people are putting your lives at risk more than we are.

    A biker could ride his whole life and never have a head injury accident, in fact, most do.

    How many smokers, drinkers, and obese fast food eaters can live thier lives that way not have health problems and death due to their vices later in life? And what do those health problems cost the public in Medicare costs?

    So quit whinning about what it costs the tax payers for each motorcycle death or accident, because you drinkers, smokers, and obese are going to costs us a hell of a lot more.

    Why isn't anyone worried about the fact that 67% of this country is overweight? I am. That's a pretty startling statistic and one that will no doubt lead to a list of ehalth issue too long to list here. So when are we going to require safeguards and ration out junk food, fast food, and put a lid on sugary soft drinks?


    -- Posted by Justin76 on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 4:24 PM
  • Why is the gubment in the healtcare business to begin with? That is the underlying problem. Gubment involved in too many things it should not be.

    Let people make the decisions they want to but also make them live with the consequenses. If you want to ride without a helmet please be sure to mark yes on the organ donor card.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 10:17 AM
  • I agree that a helmet would do me a lot of good in a low speed accident. The same can't be said of anything much over 30mph. I have a fractured vertebra in my neck (6th one) and a broken vertebra in my lower back. Either I die from a broken neck or am paralysed from the waist down. To me, death would be preferable.

    I've had to lock my 650 up on several occasions to avoid getting hit by or hitting some distracted car driver who wasn't paying attention.

    -- Posted by old grouch on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 1:23 PM
  • I guess the old saying is true. "Buy your son a bike for his last birthday."

    -- Posted by FarmerJoe on Sat, Feb 6, 2010, at 7:26 PM
  • Yeah, everyone who owns a bike dies. That's just really good investigative reporting.

    I guess we can also just assume that every highschool boy that plays football is going to flunk out of school and flip burgers due to the brain damage he'll recieve cracking his head 100 times a week.

    And that dad's are lined up to send them boys in for a little brain damage to go with their torn ACL's they can't afford to pay for.

    -- Posted by Justin76 on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 12:20 AM
  • Justin76...please use your spellcheck. I have a hard time understanding what you are trying to say...unless you are suffering from a head injury. There is a helmet law for a reason and last time I checked, football players wear helmets. I concussion is way less severe than a severe head injury. Comparing humans to a herd of Buffalo? C'mon, that is just ignorant. For your information, I do not drink, I do not smoke and I wear my seatbelt every time I get in my vehicle because they save lives. Do you see motorcycle racers racing without a helmet? Do you see race car racers racing without a helmet or seat belts? To say that the helmet law and seatbelt law is stupid is just plain ignorant in my book.

    -- Posted by McCook Supporter on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 4:09 PM
  • Supporter,

    Do you see motorcycles racing through town at 150 mph?

    Do you see cars racing through town at 220 mph?

    Maybe you have a head injury because I don't think they do.

    I guess the point flew over your head at 220 mph too.

    My point is that it should be a choice, not a law.

    The very fact that there is a law against NOT wearing a helmet and NOT wearing a seatbelt to save your life in the event of a crash, WHILE at the same time we allow the sale and use of cigarettes and alcohol in this country is hypocrisy.

    The reason we have this in our country is simple. Fat cat bureaucrats can make trillions in tax revenue off of cigs and beer. Let that soak in for a minute. They cannot make a penny off of helmets and seat belts, or lack thereof.

    So, our good for nothing government is out to save the lives of millions of driver and motorcyclists, but they ok with letting people die slow and painful, not to mention costly deaths from smoking. Then there are the slow and painful liver failure deaths from alcy's and the occasional drunk driver death of innocence. That's all okay, because that helps pay for Nancy Pelosi's 87 million dollar 757 she rides to and fro in.

    You are the one who is ignorant, as you fail to the see the double standard. You fail to see the trail of money and the hypocrisy at work here. You just fail to see at all.

    I bring up the football player for this reason, it's a proven fact that there is a correlation between concussion victims and slight brain damage that can cause learning disabilities and other problems later in life...and they wear helmets. The point is, and you should know this since you are NOT ignorant, is that the helmet didn't help.

    Not only did the helmet not do its job, but boy in this town don't we all want our boys to grow up and put that helmet on. It means more to some people than anything else in the world.

    Also, to use your brilliant analogy...I see fighter pilots wearing oxygen masks when they fly. Why don't we get them when we fly. Wait, they also wear helmets when they fly, why don't we?

    That is YOUR ananlogy to a "T."

    The reason I bring up cigs and alcohol is that nothing makes a better comparison in this country that in one hand the government is trying to protect us from oursleves, and in the other hand they aren't.

    The fact is the government will only try to protect us against from ourselves if there is no moaney to be made. If there is any money to be made, they won't touch that with a 10-ft pole...cigs and beer.

    I'd like to know why the police don't just sit outside the bars every night and pick people up the minute they leave. Surely if you are driving from a bar after you've been there 3 hours, you must be over the limit!

    Yet, a motorcyclist can't ride down the street at 35 mph without a helmet.

    The reason the police don't pick up everyone leaving the bar, every night? Money. Sure, what else could it be? There's no other reason than bar owner and customer complaints to let them have their freedom. What about our freedom.

    I'd just like to have freedom from hypocrites!

    Please be careful who you call ignorant in the future. I fell this is a very good rebuttal. I maybe used to ignorant when I was younger. Now I feel very enlightened since my eyes were opened up to the ugliness of the country that we live in. I see the double standards, the hypocrisy, and the lying and cheating for the almighty dollar.

    I don't think everyone has been awakened yet.

    They are still looking at things on the front cover, like you. They are not opening the book to read all the facts and compare it to other books. That's kind of metaphoric, but I think you get the picture.

    It's a complicated world. Sometimes the people you think are here to help, really aren't. Other times, people will do things that help only them and lead you to believe that YOU are the one being helped, while they're reaching around to steal your wallet.

    Some people in this world only get involved with causes not because they understand them, but because they realize there is something missing in their life and the want some meaning. They want to be someone who saves something. Sometimes they'll make a problem up, just to be the one who fixes it.....think global warming.

    I've never said I promote NOT wearing a seat belt or a helmet, I do. But I don't want to all the time. I certainly don't want to be a criminal when I don't. The simple fact that I cannot make my own decision to NOT wear a helmet while someone can choose to sit around all day and drink until their liver explodes means HE has MORE freedom than I do, and THAT is crap!

    I could ride 1 million miles and NEVER get into an accident. You can't prove I will. I CAN prove beyond a resonable doubt that he who smokes 1 million cigarettes or drinks 1 million drinks will die from some related health issue. You can take that to the bank.

    There are plenty of criminals out there doing far worse things. We have so many laws these days, that anyone can be a crinimal. Meanwhile there are people out there killing, stealing, kidnapping, raping, destroying, cheating, etc.

    Yet, it's easier to get busted for riding without a helmet than it is to get busted for doing meth.

    SO who has more freedom?

    -- Posted by Justin76 on Sun, Feb 7, 2010, at 11:34 PM
  • There was also a recent study done that the 6 states that has banned talking on a cell phone while driving had not seen any reduction in the rate of accidents. Gubment just knows what is best for us yet this hasn't worked? why?

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 9:41 AM
  • Wouldn't it have been informative if Chaco had posted a link to this "recent study" so we all could have seen just how long the bans had been in effect and how stringent the enforcement had been.Probably too much trouble.

    My argument for wearing helmets is that the pros, the guys who make a living riding motorcycles going all the same direction on a track with no other traffic all wear them and generally wear them off track as well.Granted highway riding is not motogp or motocross, but considering how relatively fragile is the human skull and its contents it doesn't seem a bad idea. I'd agree that those who wish to forswear the protection ought to sign a waiver agreeing to cover the full cost of treatment for head injuries and rehabilitation from any injury let's really make this about personal responsibility.

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 11:10 AM
  • Davis,

    Where do all these ideas come from? What is the big message coming from the manditory helmet crowd...that bikers are costing the country too much in medical costs? Are you actully saying this AND thinking about it at the same time?

    There are clearly 2 sets of standard here and this is getting rediculous.

    First off, I'd like to ask you where your proof is and a link to the info. You can't simply come in here and deflate someone else's claim because there is lack of proof, then make you own claims and provide no proof. You statement is simply an assumption.

    Next, if bikers should sign a waiver for not wearing a helmet, then smokers and drinkers should do the very same thing, and perhaps, not ever be eligible for health insurance PERIOD. By rights, we should also extend this law to the parents of kids in sports since that is not a vital need in someone's life...playing sports that is.

    All parents should have to sign a state and federal waiver then when/if their child sustains a sprots-related injury, they must pay for the treatment/surgery entirely out of pocket.

    This should not cost and health insurance pool of premium payers any money, and sure as heck should not cost the tax payers any money.

    Ans what about criminals, they recieve healthcare while in prison. Why? Maybe there should be a law, that when you break the law, you get no more healthcare unless you have the money to pay for it.

    Now, obvioulsy I don't actually think we should do all this stuff. I'm making a point that you people want to control other people's lives and dance on their God goven freedom, yet you WILL NOT apply the very same principles to other groups of people that are endangering themselves in very similar ways, some even worse.

    It's funny, everytime one of you makes more claims for whatever reason, it further makes my point about the hypocrisy of your side.

    And Supporter, another idea I had about your statement that since helmets are good enough for race car drivers then they should be good enough for bikers. Well I think they should be good enough for all motorists.

    Think of all the head injuries and related deaths that could have been prevented even in car accidents. If your seat belt was enough, then why do race car drivers still wear them...they have 7-point harnesses too!

    Your points are all well taken, but they just don't add up, they are hypocritical at best.

    -- Posted by Justin76 on Mon, Feb 8, 2010, at 1:05 PM
  • I have been a rider nearly all of my life, and believe me when I tell you I have dumped my share of bikes, usually from doing something that would not be considered a safe riding practice. If you dump a bike on the pavement, an helmet is nice to help control the damage. But if you run into something, a helmet will not help you. I choose to wear a helmet on the highway, but I would rather not in town. And I think I should have that choice, and every other rider should have that choic as well.

    I think the reason there are helmet and seat belt laws, but smoking, drinking, and many other things are allowed is very simple...money. The gonvernment counts on a certain amount of people to get ticketed for not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt. I have seen the calculations as well as the projected revenue from such citations. They dont care what the statistics are, they have found yet another way to get to your money. You can say the same about the failure to ban tobacco or alcohol. The revenue generated from taxing these items is staggering. I dont think you will see them giving that up any time soon.

    All of that aside, a helmet allowed me to keep the right side of my face when I dumped a bike in a cross wind by perry grain several years ago, so I will continue to wear a helmet on the highway. It doesnt bother me, and it cant hurt to try to be a little safer. I just think I should have the choice when I want to wear a helmet.

    -- Posted by seentoomuch on Tue, Feb 9, 2010, at 1:44 PM
  • Davis go ahead and doa google search if you would like to research the study. I only heard it in passing and didn't get all the details but it's interesting when the do gooder nanny staters eneact a law under the if it only saves one life premise that it dosent actually work like most things the gubment tries.


    There ya go took me all of 3 second to google this up for you.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Tue, Feb 9, 2010, at 6:03 PM
  • When Nebraska and Missouri are only states with such restrictive helmet laws in USA and no alternatives to age and buying extra insurance is not even considered the feds/Washington need to step in and make this country wide law that all states obey/like seat belts vs the Lobbist run states like Nebraska. Our insurance lobby that runs the state unicameral and buys votes and vetos/rejects alternatives helmet laws in our state... Go after the insurance companies/lobbists its their money forcing the helmets...If it was a state wide vote it would pass easy to allow alternatives to what we have today...

    -- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Thu, Feb 11, 2010, at 1:38 PM
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