Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Noosa, Australia
Written by Scott Sexton from journalnow.com
The bearded, slightly bedraggled, very sunburned biker pulling off onto the shoulder of U.S. 1 just north of Wallace, S.C., was a curious sight.
His Harley-Davidson appeared to be in good shape. Its tires were intact and the distinctive idling of the big engine sounded right. The last gas station was only a mile or two back, so fuel couldn't have been the problem.
When a trailing Jeep pulled over behind the bike, the mystery was solved.
A passenger handed a helmet to the biker and he proceeded to pull it on. The state line was only a couple of miles up the road and the laws on motorcycles change radically once you enter North Carolina.
All motorcycle riders in North Carolina are required to protect their brain pans. South Carolina requires only riders younger than 20 to do so.
The difference between the two states' approaches was apparent last weekend as the 10-day spring bike rally wound down in the Myrtle Beach area.
Remarkably, only seven out of an estimated 200,000 bikers died in wrecks. None were wearing helmets.
The real danger to motorcyclists
Riders will tell you that every day, motorists are far more hazardous to their health than whether they strap a helmet on. Rider inexperience and alcohol use (duh) also play a role in bike wrecks.
Set aside the obvious notion that a drunken rider is more likely to wreck. The same is true for automobile drivers.
The circumstances surrounding the fatalities during the spring bike rally support the notion that other motorists cause more problems for bikers than helmet use.
In four of the six fatal wrecks between May 12 and Sunday, other drivers were at fault. Inattentive motorists who were ignoring the right-of-way pulled out in front of bikers who were otherwise minding their own business.
(Two bikers were killed Thursday in one accident in Myrtle Beach when another biker pulled in front of their group.)
"Some wrecks are deemed unsurvivable," said Senior Trooper Sonny Collins of the S.C. Highway Patrol. "When you're traveling 55 mph on a motorcycle and somebody pulls out in front of you, there's not much to protect you."
Twenty states require all riders to wear helmets. Sixteen mandate helmets for riders younger than 17, seven have rules for riders less than 20, two for riders younger than 18 and one for riders under 14. Four have no limitations.
Some require helmetless riders to carry health insurance. Others will allow riders to jettison their helmets only if they have passed safety courses.
"I feel pretty confident in saying that if we had a helmet law down here, the number (of deaths) we had in the city would have been reduced," Capt. David Knipes of the Myrtle Beach Police Department said yesterday.
Don't look for N.C. to change
Since the federal government stopped threatening to withhold highway money from states that don't require headgear in 1995, a few states have repealed helmet laws. Don't look for North Carolina to join them.
The three legislators who have introduced bills to change the helmet law in the past 10 years have either left the General Assembly or will do so this year.
"I don't think it ever will pass here," said Rex Baker, a former state representative who sponsored at least three bills to repeal the mandatory helmet law for riders with six months of experience. "People just don't understand the issue."
Some bikers say that helmets can restrict their peripheral vision and hearing. Some also say that helmet laws infringe on their rights.
"We don't require medical insurance for people who ski or bungee jump," Baker said. "I just think it's unfair."
If you want to ride without a helmet, you should be able to do so. Government shouldn't dictate morality or common sense.
It's your brain. Use it or lose it.
Davo's comment: Anybody that suffers a brain injury as a result of riding a motorcycle without a helmet should pay their own medical costs, same goes for smokers having lung cancer treatment and ning nongs who jump out of aeroplanes on weekends :-D :-D :-D Geeesh, if I had any friends in the past I'm dam sure I've got none now :-D :-D
Only a biker knows why a dog sticks it's head out of a car window