My alerts picked up this question and answer in SaddleBag World about the debate on whether helmets for motorcycle riders should be mandatory. I’ll say right now with so many other issues that need discussing I’m hoping not to have to go through this summer discussing this issue ad nauseum. The anti-mandatory-motorcycle-helmet argument is that we have a right to choose not too wear a helmet to protect our brains; which makes no sense to me and having worked with brain damaged clients over the past 30+ years you won’t persuade me that asking bike riders to protect their brains is a position that I should abandon. Simply stated you can’t argue me out of the position that riders should wear helmets or else the legislature should make wearing a helmet mandatory.

Read what this brother says about his brain damaged brother; it rings true with my experience dealing with brain damaged clients.


SaddleBag World

Why isn’t there a Motorcycle Helmet law in every state?

by admin on April 27, 2009


QUESTION: My brother was in a motorcycle accident in October. He has an Traumatic Head Injury and left leg that was broken in many places. There's only me and my sister who are picking up the pieces of everything. Not many places in Iowa to help him be rehabilitated. It has been an awful experience to watch your brother through this whole motorcycle accident.

I would never want any other family to be put in this position. Do you have any other suggestions? Other than point out how there should not be any Helmet Law. Thanks.


ANSWER: Because it should be a personal choice as it affects only rider directly. You can argue the use of half helmets, 3/4's or full face. If it is mandatory then full face is the most protective but it will PO people who like the other helmets. Some complain any helmet restricts vision & hearing: they say no helmet is safer. I say make up your own mind. Who am I to says what you should wear? Who are the law makers to say what you should wear? It's another freedom taken away from you. Maybe one day the law makers will decide that riding a motorcycle is too dangerous and ban it completely…think about THAT!!!!!


The response is just the same old tired arguments about the risk of brain damage is a personal choice. If that's true then shouldn't suicide be a choice eveyone can freely make?

He adds that freedom is the right to risk brain damage and that no one should have the right to tell someone else what to do. That is a desperate and lame argument lacking an understanding of how the real world works. When the risks are large and the costs significant society always has the right to tell us what we will and won’t do. Not wearing a helmet risks irreversible brain damage burdening not just society but as this young man explains the rest of the family that were not asked about whether their brother should wear a helmet. Traumatic brain damage doesn’t just affect the brain damaged person. No, the motorcycle rider with the brain damage is mostly oblivious to the burden he or she has created on the rest of the family. The burden isn’t just financial it’s a time burden as well. Severely brain damaged men and women need to be babysat.


A client once explained it to me this way. I asked her if taking care of her husband was like taking care of a child. She answered, “No. A child can learn from their mistakes.”


Is that what you want to risk? Being totally dependent on others isn’t any fun for the brain damaged person, it’s frustrating; especially if they can remember what they used to be like and the freedom they did have to do what they wanted when they wanted. Freedoms like these:


  • Freedom to cook without forgetting to turn off the stove and burn the house down.
  • Freedom to drive without being distracted by the radio station dial and sideswiping three parked cars.
  • Freedom to work on your engine and knowing the sequence of putting it all back together so it will run.
  • Freedom to go to Iowa State University and receive an education; not to flunk every class they take.
  • Freedom to be in a bar with other college students and not wonder why they are being stared and smirked at.
  • Freedom to manage their own money and not having to ask a sister or brother for permission to spend the Social Security Disability benefit check they’ve been able to save.
  • Freedom to go to the Biker Week 2009 in Daytona.
  • Freedom to attend the 69th Annual Sturgis Rally.


This freedom to choose is an old and tired argument by people, including lawyers, who are pandering to unrealistic and irrational thinking for the sake of doing business with you. It’s shameful to say the least.


I was traveling in Argentina this past January and saw a movie titled, The Lookout. It’s about the life of a young man who sustains brain damage from a car crash. Jeff Daniels plays the brain damaged young man’s blind mentor and as he re-teaches Chris how to live, he states, “Let’s start at the end because you can’t tell a story unless you know where it’s going.” I suggest you watch it because the dependence you will carry on your back as a brain damaged person who once rode a bike is nothing near the freedom you want.


The Lookout marks Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter Scott Frank's (Out of Sight), directorial debut. The intelligent crime drama is centered around Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mysterious Skin), a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist. The film also stars Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale), Isla Fisher (The Wedding Crashers), Matthew Goode (Match Point) and Carla Gugino (Night at the Museum).

A law school professor asked his class why is suicide illegal? Good question and it was hotly debated. Final answer: Because everyone owes society their best effort, intellectual capital and labor. In other words we are in this together. As the weather warms up remember to wear your helmet my brothers and sisters and ignore those shouting about personal freedom and choice as if it were some God-given right. It's not and will never be.

Steve Lombardi
Connect with me
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
Be the first to comment!
Post a Comment