Posted June 19, 2006 at 10:05 AM
TBO Photo Illustration
‘Drive Safely’ markers are placed on the roadside where fatal crashes occur in Florida.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MELBOURNE—Motorcycle fatalities involving riders without helmets have soared in the nearly six years since Gov. Jeb Bush repealed the state’s mandatory helmet law, a newspaper reports.
A ‘Florida Today’ analysis of federal motorcycle crash statistics found “unhelmeted” deaths in Florida rose from 22 deaths in 1998 and 1999, the years before the helmet law repeal, to 250 deaths in 2004, the most recent data available.
Should helmets be optional?
Yes. It’s freedom.
No. It’s safety.
By comparison, Florida logged 270 deaths of riders without helmets during the 1990s, when riding without a helmet was illegal, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.
Total motorcycle deaths in the state have increased 67 percent from 259 in 2000 to 432 in 2004, statistics show.
Records also show a corresponding rise in the popularity of motorcycles in the Sunshine State. Motorcycle registrations have increased 87 percent in Florida since Bush signed the helmet law repeal on July 1, 2000.
The debate over motorcycle helmet safety resurfaced last week when Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, an advocate of helmet-free riding, broke his jaw, nose and several teeth in an accident. He underwent seven hours of surgery.
Roethlisberger is being cited in the crash. (Read that story here.)
Merritt Island motorcyclist and helmet law opponent Dave Carroll said the helmet law debate is misguided.
“The media spent way too much time harping on the helmet issue and not enough on the cause of the accident,” Carroll said. “What causes most of the crashes is cars. Usually, it’s the car driver turning left at an intersection and causing an accident because they didn’t see us coming.”
Physicians and insurance companies say helmets are crucial safety gear.
“We used to call (helmetless riders) ‘organ donors,’ because they break their head and not their body,” said Dr. David Harbour, who works in the emergency room at Wuesthoff Medical Center in Rockledge. “You can actually fix a broken bone. But if you hit your head and hurt your brain, there’s little we can do to fix that.”
‘Florida Today’ is published on the Space Coast.
So, what do you think?
Send Us Your Comments
Posted by Thomas W. Garrett, Tampa on 06/19 at 04:28 PM
A lot of insightful posts.
May I suggest a “bottom line” for our legislators? Either reinstate the mandatory helment law or remove the fine for not using a seat belt. These
two statutes are conflicting! If the seat belt statute was inacted to reduce injury (and therefore non-insured expenses), how is use of helments different? Both involve the personal choice to accept a higher risk during an accident.
Posted by Donna Rich-Luke, Tampa, FL on 06/19 at 04:18 PM
I also agree that the media does sensationalize motorcycle accidents and does continue to perpepuate the negative image of bikers.
Why do we almost always read of an accident that the biker had no helmet, but nothing is “reported” of seat belt use in the same accident? Could someone please tell me why it was written that Ben Roethlisberger that hit or smashed into the lady instead of the other way around? Since she was charged with failure to yield in causing the accident, should it have been written that she ran into or smashed into him? It doesn’t seem correct to me, but I suppose its just a different way of reporting “the facts”.
Posted by John Stout, Spring hill on 06/19 at 04:12 PM
Let those who ride decide
Put your energy into something that matters ...like the war and our High gas prices…
Posted by Donna Rich-Luke, Tampa, FL on 06/19 at 04:10 PM
I actively ride motorcycles and believe that the decision to wear or not to wear a helmet and the type of helmet is a personal choice. I choose to wear a helmet but I am still an organ donor, have a living will and my family knows my decisions.
Most accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle are usually the fault of the car/truck and not that of the biker. As a biker, I know I have to ride as if I am invisible to those of you in cars/trucks because you are usually eating, on a cell phone, disciplining your unruly kids, reading, etc. The next time you see a bike on the road, backoff and don’t creep into our lanespace thinking that we don’t need the whole lane since we’re on a bike. Leave us a little room or at least the amount that is required by law.
Posted by james boyd, lake wales on 06/19 at 04:07 PM
THESE ARE ADULTS 18 AND OLDER. THEY KNOW THE RISK AND IF THEY CHOSE TO BE SO VAINE AS TO RIDE WITHOUT A HELMENT THEN THEY WILL HAVE TO TAKE WHAT COMES. AFTER ALL THIS IS VERY UNIMPORTANT COMPAIRED TO PRAYER IN SCHOOL OR THE WORDS IN GOD WE TRUST ON OUR MONEY OR THE PLEDGE OF ALEGENCES TO THE FLAG THAT RREPERSENTS ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN IN THIS WORLD THAT DIED FOR OUR RIGHT TO MAKE THE DECISION TO WEAR OR NOT TO WEAR A HELMENT.
Posted by Alicia Lopez, Tampa on 06/19 at 04:05 PM
I’m tired of the government i.e. state, local and Federal branches, telling me what and not to do!!
It seems as though more and more and more of our freedoms are being taken away from all of us. It’s gotten so you can hardly turn around anymore without having to ask permission!
Rules and regulations are everywhere. From deed restricted neighborhoods where you have to have your house, dog and toilet a certain color. To finding out that you don’t REALLY own you home, because of a little known law called Imminent Domain, where the government can come in and take your house if it determines that it is for the good of the community (or for it’s own pockets!)
Let people ride with or without helmets. As it’s one of the VERY few things we have left that is completely our OWN decision!
Posted by Erica Abbott, tampa, florida on 06/19 at 04:02 PM
Most motorcycle accidents happen because of stupidity. I do wear a helmet EVERY time I ride...I don’t find it uncomfortable myself, but everyone has their own ideas. Everyone needs to watch for riders and riders need to watch for drivers and not do stupid things on the road…
Posted by Jason Fladd, Dade City on 06/19 at 03:59 PM
I am not a motorcycle rider but I do believe you should have the right to ride without a helmet and you should also have the right to drive a car without a seatbelt. Just as alluded to in this report statistics can be skewed to represent the writers point of view. I am tired of government trying to protect people from themselves. If anything motorcycle riders should want to wear a helmet to protect themselves from regular motorists on cell phones. That is where the real danger lies.
Posted by Harv Kortman, new port richey on 06/19 at 03:54 PM
Interesting that everone thinks about the head. Other parts get hurt as well. Do you think a helmet is going to stop a broken neck or a broken spine?? All in all, most motorcycle accidents I feel are cagers( people in cages =cars), hot shot riders and the “need for speed” riders. Lets see the stats on that, age/sex/type of bike. I’ve installed extra lighting on my bike so I “stand out “a bit
Posted by Duane Davis, Sarasota, FL on 06/19 at 03:53 PM
I agree with all you idiots that don’t want to wear helmets. I just wish you would fill out an affadavit saying in case of a serious motorcycle accident, as soon as your coverage goes belly-up, we don’t have to take care of or pay for the malignant growth that is vegetating on the bed. Until you do that, which you won’t, put on a helmet because I don’t want to have to pay for your freedom. Why are all these “personal freedom” types usually againt ProChoice also. I don’t want to pay for anyones mistake there either. But of course you want to punish the woman for having sex, but after the father cuts and runs, noone wants to help the woman with the child since we are always cutting social programs to give tax cuts to the rich.
Posted by Robert Martin, Tampa, USA on 06/19 at 03:34 PM
The no helmet law was a joke when it was done. How can the state of Florida promote safety when you we get a traffic ticket in a safer 4 wheeled vehicle for no seat belt, but then you can ride a 2 wheeled vehicle with no helmet???????????????????????
Whoever makes these STUPID laws should be fired.
Posted by Joe Mannino, Clearwater on 06/19 at 03:25 PM
Let ‘em ride without helmets. Let people drive without seatbelts. By that token strip every piece of protective legislation from the law books. Let Darwinism thin the herd a bit.
Posted by Patrick A. Collet, Valrico on 06/19 at 03:25 PM
I ride a motorcycle. I love my full face helmet. I would never force it on any one. Because I RESPECT another HUMAN’S right to be the master of their own lives. At what age do we in U.S. recognise that a citizen has become an ADULT and should be their own master. I have noticed a trend in this country for some to think that they have the right to act like people are childred that must be lorded over for their own protection. Well I have some news for you. The very reason men and women came to this land to eek out a living and build their own nation was free themselves from just that kind of world. They worked and died to give us the best country people ever had in all history. Lets not forget in all this spin what the words FREEDOM, LIBERTY, and JUSTICE FOR ALL, meant to our forfathers and should for us as well.
Just say no to imperialism.
Just say no to violence.
Just say no to corruption.
Posted by DB Harvey, Tampa on 06/19 at 03:20 PM
If you are a regular motorbike rider, it is not a question of if you will get in a jam, it is merely a question of when. It will happen.
Posted by Robert Sterling, St. Petersburg on 06/19 at 03:12 PM
I had a friend who was riding without a helmet when a drunk plowed through a stop sign and t-boned him. My friend suffered a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and severe internal bleeding. He died in the hospital several days later.
Damn. Should have been wearing a helmet.
Posted by Steve Whitmer, Tampa on 06/19 at 03:10 PM
You cannot protect everyone from every danger, there is always something that can kill you. To continue to take away personal choice in the name of safety, is wrong. At some point a person has to be responsible for his own health and well being. What’s next; life jackets on anyone who is going in the water, so they don’t drown? Guns kill more people than motorcycles, lets make everyone wear a bullet proof vest.
Posted by Laurie Griffith, Tampa Bay on 06/19 at 03:04 PM
Mike White -
No, I don’t own a motorcycle. I don’t own a canoe, either, but I am smart enough to know that if I chose to ride in one, I would wear a life vest. Same concept - common sense.
Posted by john williams, brandon,fl on 06/19 at 02:56 PM
I think if your eighteen or older then its your choice to rear a helmet as well as a seat belt I can’t stand it when the gov. tells us adults what to do with our own lives. Me i would wear
a helmet but thats me. I wouldn’t force my views on anybody,I say lets repeal the seatbelt law also. Oh I forgot BIG BROTHER would cut the states funding for road constuction.
Posted by SONYA WORLEY, SPRING HILL,FL on 06/19 at 02:33 PM
GET IN A CAR,YOU BUCKLE UP.GET ON A BIKE PUT ON A HELMET.WHY ANYONE WOULDN’T WEAR A HELMET TO SAVE THEIR LIVES IS CRAZY AND FOOLISH.
Posted by T Hasty, Brandon on 06/19 at 02:31 PM
I wear a helmet 100% of the time. Along with other gear. Just bug inpacts on my face along with a pebble doing 70 into my face: OUCH Justify it. However I do see the attraction people have of not wearing one with the wind in the hair.
$10,000 is a joke! Less than one day in the hosiptial will burn that up. Who is the state kidding? Who is going to pay for the rest? YOU ARE!! I would say raise it to half a million.
Do I believe there should be a helmet law? NO.
Do I believe every rider should wear one? YES
If a bike rider is that stupid not to wear one, then he should be allowed to crack his head open. And for that “helmet expert” above from the article who says that its not the “rider” but the cars on the highway that causes the accidents he should have his own head checked. I have seen more than one lonely rider wreck without any help from a caged driver--Enviromental factors like flat tire, slick pavement, or animal, you can name a million.
Posted by Mark R. Tampa, Tampa Bay on 06/19 at 02:29 PM
If there is going to be a law passed requiring bikers to wear helmets, why not a law the bans cars from having nespapers, books, computers, dvd players, video screens, and cell phones? Most of the biker fatalities are due to car drivers not paying attention.
I wish I had a dollar for every driver that I have seen talking on a cell phone, reading the paper or a book, typing on a computer screen, etc. while driving down the raod....mostly road, then tend to vear onto the shoulder and into other lanes.
The people that complain about the helth care and insurance angle are just plain ignorant. If you ride without a helmet, you are required to have insurance.
BTW, I wear my helmet most of the time. Only in large groups do I dare remove it. Safety in numbers.
Posted by Greg Hample, Holiday, FL on 06/19 at 02:16 PM
I have to “Click it or ticket”, but I can also then turn around and ride a motorcycle with no helmet? Too many laws, and so many that intrude on our personal responsibility.
Posted by Ron Hawks, Safety Harbor, Fl on 06/19 at 02:07 PM
LET THOSE WHO RIDE DECIDE, AMERICA! I’ve been riding for over 30yrs., sometimes with a lid, sometimes without. Helmets are heavy, hot and obstruct vision and hearing. Sometimes I wonder how I ever survived growing up on a farm, The Vietnam War and 20yrs. of driving on US19 without all the do-gooders telling me what do for my own safety. There are more important thinks that you should be worried about, like making sure the teenagers and old folks pay attention to bikers when they are driving their cages.
Posted by Brad Owens, Dunedin on 06/19 at 01:56 PM
I’v been riding for over 20 years, I’ve been lucky and had only one crash and wore a helmet and it was cracked open like an egg (could have been my head. I’m still riding and always wear a helmet, as I want to take care of myself and be around for my spouse. I think that its up to the rider to choose, if they enjoy the thoughts of dying or brain damage then so be it. As for the stats given they don’ add up but then what does in the News today. Lastly I like to ride safely and have to watch out for the nuts in SUV’s
You’ll neve see me riding without some protection.
Posted by Christina Monahan, Tampa on 06/19 at 01:48 PM
I believe that you should be able to make your own decisions. If you dont want to wear one you shouldn’d have to. And the same goes for seat belts. If you dont have to wear a helmet then you shouldnt have to wear a seat belt either. And they call this a free country. HAAA!!!
If deaths have gone up 67% but riders has increased to 87% wouldnt this infact mean that deaths are down?
I believe it should be a personal choice, if you are stupid enough to not ride with a helmet then that is your choice. i know riding without one for me is not an option and i will always have one.
Also tired of hearing about how they obstruct your view.... "ive been riding for 30 years blah blah" well have you worn a helmet that wasnt made in the fucking 70's