Bike Safer's attitude to the Helmet Law issue

The literature on the effect of helmets in crashes in the USA is totally messed up by the entrenched positions on both side of the helmet debate. NHTSA, in particular, has been accused of commissioning biased research, and there is some merit to those accusations.

We were able to find some research in Europe and Thailand where helmet laws are not as sensitive an issue as in the US. As the mechanics of bike crashes are the same there as here, we took a quick look at two research reports. As the current politically correct viewpoint in the OSU study is that helmets play no major role in crash causation, maybe we can say that crash causation plays no major role in helmet efficacy, so we might learn something from the Maids and Thai data.

See for the ABATE viewpoint on helmets, or BOLT.

NHTSA is the Federal DOT protagonist in this dispute. sums it up.

ET says: We'll allow both sides to put their cases here. I don't have any problem with letting the facts, with appropriate scrutiny, speak for themselves. I ride with ABATE members and respect their opinions.

In the interests of getting good information, I deplore all efforts by the pro-helmet side to mess up the data by using selective facts or studies flawed by bogus assumptions or dodgy statistics. Let the facts speak for themselves. We will also call out bad information put out by the anti-helmet lobby.

In the end, the propaganda of NHTSA and their allies serve no function but to bring all research into disrepute, which makes it harder to find good information on motorcycle safety. This is a disservice to all bikers.

The Injury Mitigation section presents the best information we found on the subject. If you are considering not wearing a helmet, please review this section, and make a reasonable decision. If you decide not to wear a helmet, consider that not wearing a helmet probably increases the stakes, by increasing the risk of injury in the event of a crash. Please pay extra attention to the other orange, green and red sections in our Bikesafer risk hierarchy, because prevention of crashes is more important if you are unprotected.

We're going to try to avoid getting involved in this controversy, as we feel that bad information from both sides has contaminated the literature on the subject.

In relation to the current, OSU-managed Crash Causation Study, we point out that the study is being done in California, a helmet state, that NHTSA which has been unreliable on the helmet issue has been excluded from a management role (Federal Highway Admin runs the study) and, thanks to the careful way AMA has shepherded the process, all the major participants are careful to say that the study is about crash causation, and that helmet use is not a factor in crash causation. We should not expect any major helmet-related information from this study.

If you want more helmet protection information, check out the Head Protection Lab or any of the links on our helmet page.

My personal opinion is that they can take my helmet from my cold dead hands. That's my personal choice. But we don't have enough freedoms and I oppose attempts by government to reduce freedom.

I would suggest that riders who don't wear helmets consider who would be paying for their medical care in the event of an injury, and if my taxes would be helping pay for your care, I would greatly appreciate your consideration in helping to minimize your injuries. With freedom comes responsibility, and that's what choice is about.

Ride Safer.