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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Roethlisberger’s Accident Points up Danger of Repealing Helmet Laws

Posted by kinchendavid on July 17, 2006


David Kinchen- 1975 (with helmet)

By David M. Kinchen
Hinton, WV – “Take Care of Your Head by Wearing Your Helmet” was actor Gary Busey’s final comment on Rita Cosby’s “Live & Direct” MSNBC show the other night when Cosby discussed the Ben Roethlisberger motorcycle crash in Pittsburgh.
Strange that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story we ran on HNN didn’t even mention that the 24-year-old Steelers quarterback wasn’t wearing a brain bucket when he crashed his 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa bike into a Chrysler New Yorker. Pennsylvania repealed its mandatory helmet law three years ago and death and injury rates have skyrocketed since then. It’s the same in other states that have stopped making helmet wearing the law.
Gary Busey knows first hand the effects of riding a bike without a helmet; shortly after picking up his Harley at a dealership in Culver City, on Dec. 4, 1988, he hit a patch of sand on a freeway onramp and crashed the brand-new bike. His head was split open and he told Cosby that if he had been on the ground three more minutes, he wouldn’t have lived. He spent serious time in Cedars-Sinai Hospital, one of the best in the nation.
What do I know about motorcycles? I began riding motorcycles in the 1960s (I don’t count my time on Cushman scooters in the 1950s) and I’ve been licensed to ride motorcycles in Wisconsin, California and West Virginia. I have never ridden even a short distance without a helmet. I no longer own a bike, but if I did, I would wear one of the three helmets I still have. A good friend of mine living in Florida – like Pennsylvania without a helmet law for adults – recently sold his beloved Harley because he was tempted to ride without a helmet.
I hope the fact that WV Gov. Joe Manchin owns and rides a Harley won’t lead him to follow the misguided examples of Pennsylvania and the other states that have repealed mandatory helmet laws. We want motorcycle tourists, but we want them alive and well to spend money here, not being transported to the nearest ER.
Yes, I know I’m a libertarian and don’t like the nanny state. Sometimes we have to be forced to use our heads – the ones inside those helmets!

Originally published June 14, 2006


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