I’ve lived in several states. My perpetual moving around is one of the reasons I had the idea to write my book. I came to notice that a law-abiding citizen in one state isn’t a law-abiding citizen in another state. I’m OK with that because I think states should have the right to have different laws than one another (that doesn’t mean I agree with all of the laws, though). Anyway, one of the most obvious ways in which citizens have different requirements from state to state is in the use of helmets on motorcycles.
This issue is very personal to me because my dad survived a motorcycle accident in 1995. His accident was a really serious one, and most certainly would have resulted in death had he not been wearing a helmet. Obviously, I’m glad he was wearing one, and I always wear one myself, but that doesn’t mean I believe this to be a matter for government involvement.
I remember talking about this issue with my husband one morning over breakfast at McDonald’s. This was when we lived in Illinois (a state that does not require the use of helmets). This was before we had kids, so we were just sitting around drinking coffee like good little graduate students. We were talking about the idea of personal freedom and responsibility and government involvement in choices like this when this nasty old lady butted into our conversation with the condescending response that she pays taxes that pay the medical bills of stupid people not wearing helmets. Then she stormed off with this look on her face like “stupid kids don’t know how the world works.” If she had stayed around and finished what she started, I would have responded politely with a couple of points.
First of all, the fact that she pays taxes that support people’s medical bills, doesn’t mean that the solution is to regulate everyone’s behavior. Where would that end up? She might not be able to enjoy a McDonald’s breakfast with supposedly disastrous cardiac results since she is presumably on medicare. Secondly, helmets are often the factor that keeps someone alive and in the hospital longer. My dad is an example of this. If he hadn’t been wearing his helmet, he would have died on the scene — no medical intervention necessary. But, since he didn’t, he was in the hospital for about three weeks, in physical therapy after that, and didn’t return to work for a good, long while. Now, he wasn’t on medicare or medicaid, but this is just one example of how helmet use may actually add to medical costs.
Anyway, all of that brings us to today’s story. I found out this morning that Michigan is attempting to repeal their helmet law (the link contains a video). Yesterday, the bill passed the state house and is going to the state senate. If it passes the senate, Governor Snyder has said he would sign it if it includes items about insurance reform…and that’s where this good news for liberty story turns a little south.
Even if this bill passes, it doesn’t mean that all riders will be allowed to ride without helmets in Michigan. The stipulations to the law include being 21 years old, having a certain amount of riding experience, and carrying a certain amount of insurance. Those things seem pretty unenforceable to me. But, it’s just like lawmakers to tout freedom and liberty as their motivation for passing something while then maintaining as much control as possible. I guess this law is a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure how effective it will be.
Don’t forget about my book giveaway. You can enter to win until tomorrow morning.