Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Helmet Laws

Some members of the motorcycle club I am in were discussing helmet laws. My comment follows:
"I guess some folks' "personal liberties" are more important than safety."

I think personal liberties are pretty important.

Nothing is "safe," it is a matter of degrees. Crossing the road is unsafe. So is eating meat. Or breathing, even, since many germs are airborne (of course, not breathing is pretty unsafe too!). The question is not between personal liberties and safety. Instead, it is a matter of WHO gets to decide WHAT LEVEL of safety is appropriate for YOU. Those of us who prefer personal liberties think that YOU are in the best position to decide what is best for YOU. And, if you think otherwise, you can always put someone else in charge of your life (Isn't that what marriage is?).

Surely you would not argue that riding a motorcycle is (a) 100% safe or even (b) safer than alternative forms of transportation. Yet YOU decide that the benefits from riding a motorcycle outweigh the potential costs of a motorcycle accident. And I respect your decision.

My mom doesn't respect your decision. And she'd try to convince you it is a bad idea to ride... which is well within her rights to do. It would not be okay for her to lock you up or make you pay a fine for deciding to go for a jaunt on a Saturday afternoon. Yet this is exactly what laws like "You must wear a helmet" do. They say what most people feel is an appropriate decision for them and then force that decision on everyone else.

So if you think everyone should wear a helmet, convince them. But using the force of law is inappropriate.

1 comment:

Angela Erickson said...

My brother's argument for not wearing a helmet is thatif he gets in an accident and lands on his head the helmets going to cause his neck to break. So he'll be a vegetable. And he'd rather be dead than a vegetable.

So your point is well taken.

But often times my brother's wisdom is a little short sighted.