Helmets are an integral part of any riders gear and those who would like to ride without them ought to be made fully aware of the implications of doing so. Most states have made it mandatory to use helmets when riding a motorcycle. The point of the helmets is to reduce the injuries that a person may be exposed to in case an accident occurs. However, this point hardly holds any water since it is always the prerogative of the rider to opt whether to keep out of harm’s way or stay in it. The argument that a person will reduce the amount of injuries that he or she may incur in case of an accident by wearing a helmet is sort of like saying it is okay to have unprotected sex with a commercial sex worker as long as you use a protective sheath. More efforts should be put into encouraging the riders and drivers to operate the vehicles and motorcycles in appropriate ways that will ensure that accidents do not occur. This paper aims to show why mandatory helmets laws are not a solution to keeping people safe and out of harm’s way. The piece further elucidates that it is crucial for the authorities to put more emphasis on safe operation of vehicles and motorcycles rather than enforce laws that seem to be inclined towards a negative outcome or effect such as an accident. It covers the pessimistic angle that the helmet laws stress on by encouraging users to practice safe riding and driving.
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As much as the laws in most federal laws and programs in majority of the states go ahead and promote safety when riding motorcycles and prevention of accidents, as well as the use of protective gear when riding, the use of helmets ought not to be made compulsory. Majority of the efforts that are spent on enforcing the use of protective gear such as helmets should be directed towards preventing the accidents from taking place rather than placing more emphasis on what the riders of motorcycles ought to be wearing. States like Ohio have managed to come to a consensus or stalemate by enacting a law on motorcycle helmets that indicate “operators 18 years of age or older who have had a valid license for over a year do not have to wear a safety helmet under Ohio law” (Aninao, 1993, p. 8).
Individual choice and freedom ought to be respected at whatever cost. Forcing a biker to wear a helmet is tantamount to invading his or her rights to making personal decisions. He or she ought to be left alone to make a decision on whether or not to wear a helmet. The rider will be fully aware of the danger of getting serious head injuries, and thus, the need for extra precautions when riding. Cairns (1943) put out a number of groundbreaking articles that “used clinical case reports to show that motorcycle crash helmets mitigated the severity of head injuries suffered by military motorcyclists during crashes” (p.592). In any case, the helmet will only serve to offer a false sense of safety, which will only entice him or her to ride at break neck speeds with the frame of mind that in case an accident occurs, the helmet will save his or her life. This false hood is never passed on to the riders. It will be much easier to get the rider to understand that it is wise to ride a motorcycle at safe speeds and take extra care since the lack of a helmet may increase the injuries that he or she may receive in case of an accident. It is always good to maintain an optimistic point of view especially when going out for a drive or ride. This means that one ought to try to avoid thinking that every time he or she is going to operate a vehicle they ought to expect only the worst outcome (Teret, 1981). If all of the drivers and riders are able to realize the advantages of practicing safe, riding and driving rather than relying on protective gear such as seat belts and helmets, then the world will surely be a better place.
There is nothing more effective than a safe driver who takes extra caution not to be reckless on the roads. This is the frame of mind that all road users ought to be put into, so that they may realize the dangers of operating their vehicles and motorcycles carelessly. The use of helmets ought t to be encouraged rather than required. There are many other life-threatening activities that people indulge in yet they have never been banned (Baker, 1980). These include smoking, unhealthy eating habits such as eating junk food all the time, and HIV from having unprotected sex. An individual can avoid having unprotected sex or eating healthy foods to keep healthy. A rider should also be given the choice to make a decision to wear a helmet or not. Ultimately, it is the life of the rider of the motorcycle that is at risk and not the lives of others. Knowles (1977) contentious but mind-jogging critique – The Responsibility for the Individual – affirmed, “Individual lifestyle choices determined the major health risks for Western society” (p. 57).
It is best to state that people will never be safe from accidents as long as they do not understand the importance of safe riding as well as driving. Moreover, in seeking a solution to the current rise in accidents on the road, the matter that should be of more concern is the operation of the vehicle rather than the safety measures and gear that the operator has made use of. People ought to be encouraged to practice safe driving techniques instead of insisting on them wearing safety belts. The belts ought to come in as a standard operating procedure that the operator should use. In the same breath, wearing helmets ought to be secondary and what should be addressed is the matter of the rider taking precautions.
Aninao, J. (1993). State motorcycle helmet laws, their statutory citations, and the legislative history of Ohio’s helmet law. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Legislative Service Commission.
Baker, S. (1980). On lobbies, liberty, and the public good. American Journal of Public Health, 37(3), 570-573.
Cairns, H. (1943). Head injuries in motorcyclists, with special reference to crash helmets. British Medical Journal 25(1), 592–598.
Knowles, J. (1977). The responsibility of the individual. Daedalus, 14(7), 57–80.
Teret, S. (1981). Freedom and protection: A balancing of interests. American Journal of Public Health. 17(1), 295–296.