|Schuberth makes a comfy helmet. |
Its my choice.
Note. Today, 2/24, according to the New Mexican, the Senate Public Affairs Committee killed both bills.A version of this blog post had been sent to the members of the Public Affairs Committee, as testimony, over the weekend.
A helmet law turns safety on its head. A high quality (Snell Memorial Foundation, etc) and properly fitted helmet can protect from or mitigate impacts that can cause skull fracture or traumatic brain injury. But like any form of personal protective equipment (PPE), a helmet is a last line of defense. One's main line of defense is to avoid the crash, because a helmet will not protect against all brain impacts and does nothing to protect the rest of your body from potentially catastrophic crash injury(1). Crash avoidance includes training, good roadway engineering, research into how people crash, and policies (law enforcement, insurance premiums) that reward good behavior and penalize the bad. It is therefore exasperating to the motorcycle community that the same Senate that wants to require helmets has refused, repeatedly, to require greater roadway accountability via enhanced penalties for careless drivers who injure or kill. There is yet another enhanced penalty bill in the hopper this year, SB 651.
|David Anderson's Ghost Bike|
This bill will do nothing to change the deadly driving culture in New Mexico that extracts a staggering cost to New Mexicans, most of which has nothing to do with motorcycle use. While physicians Fleegler and Nolte suggest that helmetless riders may cost New Mexicans $40 million per year, that is not even a blip compared to what dangerous driving costs the public (note added later: The NM Legislature, in its fiscal impact report on 327, suggests that NM would save $48 per registered motorcycle. In the fiscal impact on 308, it claims 63,000 registered motorcycles. Multiplying these, you get $3,024,000. Hmmm). The New Mexico Dept. of Transportation (pg. 173) puts the annual human cost of traffic crashes at about 1.4 billion dollars and the total costs at over 3 billion. Interestingly, in a post to the Albuquerque Journal, Warren Woodward, the Legislative Chair of Street Bikers United Hawaii, claims that helmet laws don't reduce the death/accident ratio. They just reduce riding. His stuff is here.
If the NM State Senate wants to help, it can assist us in working towards a Vision Zero safety culture and by better understanding motorcycling, rather than simply trying to put a helmet on a rider and falsely claiming victory. I am sure we in the moto community would be eager to help.
Ref. (1) "While the use of a motorcycle helmet has been estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists who are involved in a highway crash, only 59 percent of motorcyclists who sustained fatal injuries were reported to be wearing a helmet at the time of their crash. (as quoted in Kerns et al)
NHTSA (2010): The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes
The Economic Impact of Traffic Crashes, M.J. Kittelson, M.S. Thesis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010
National Center for Bicycling and Walking Traffic Justice Initiative (2006)
Vision Zero Initiative
Motorcycle Safety Foundation Research Library
On bicycle helmets, by John S. Allen and the late Sheldon Brown
** Was riding my bicycle to work when a motorist made an unannounced left turn in front of me. Went over the car and onto Mr. Pavement where I was out cold, suffering a TBI.