Live Free or Die Riding (without a helmet)

July 5th, 2011

By now, I’m sure you’ve read the story about the helmet-less motorcyclist who died on his bike while protesting helmet laws. I don’t aim to make light of this tragedy (though it serves a strong serving of irony). I would like to point out that Mr. Contos no doubt followed through on the logical conclusion of his deeply held belief–that he would rather be free not to wear a helmet, at the risk of injury (and even death!) to himself.

In a previous blog post I commented on the paternalistic nature of helmet laws:

I have a similar reaction when I see motorcyclists without helmets. In my new home of Pennsylvania, motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets. And anecdotally, in the home of Harley Davidson, many bikers go dome-free. Helmet, and seat-belt laws are paternalistic.

Some raise the argument that requiring bikers to wear helmets cuts down on visits to the emergency room, which ultimately reduce costs for everyone. I have a solution! If you choose to ride your bike without a helmet, and you get into an accident, you automatically waive the receipt of any public welfare as a result of the accident. Same goes for seatbelt laws. If you want to do something idiotic, don’t make me pay for it!

On the (somewhat) bright side, Freaknomics points out that a rollback in helmet laws provides more human organs for transplants.