Early this Sunday morning at about 3 a.m., which is roughly the witching hour when bars close. a motorcyclist with a female passenger crashed into a car in West Milwaukee. The accident took place at the intersection of Miller Parkway and West National Avenue.
The motorcyclist was killed. His passenger, who sustained traumatic brain injury, was taken to Froedert Hospital.
Neither of them was wearing a helmet. Police declined to identify them. But the Milwaukee motorcyclist, 43, had lost his motorcycle license in April for operating under the influence. His badly injured woman passenger, 41, Sunday was from West Allis.
Is that fatal accident an argument for Wisconsin to pass a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets? I think it is, but it’s a controversial topic that people feel strongly about. The Wilwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the accident had 36 comments posted on it, most of them debating whether or not Wisconsin should make helmets mandatory, as they are in some states.
Those who oppose a helmet law believe that such legislation amounts to the government intruding on their freedom (comments printed as written, typos and misspellings intact).
“It’s unfortunate what happened to these people, but we don’t need a helmet law,” November 2012 posted. “The Government doesn’t need to make a law for every little thing. These people are adults and made a choice NOT to wear a helmet. Society does not need Government involved in every decision we make.”
And plenty of other people, like Milltowngurl, agreed with him.
“No, the government does not need to make laws for every little personal choice in MY life, Thank you very much,” she posted. “If I want to be an idiot and not wear a helmet when I ride a donor cycle, then so be it. If I do not want to wear a seat belt when driving a car, then that should also be my choice. The only time it should not be a choice is when it applies to minors who are not mature enough to make adult decisions. Get a grip. Get the government out of our personal lives already! (or do you need someone to tell you how to live your life? If so, join the military!)”
Those who were in favor of mandatory helmets for motorcylists were just as vocal about the need for a helmet law, not just to protect the motorcylist, but so that Wisconsin — and ultimately its residents – aren’t burdened with the costs that are repercussions of accidents.
”It is the govt’s role (to mandate helmets),” wrote Leatherface49. “Let’s say the passenger needs extensive hospitalization and doesnt have insurance. there’s $5 million costto society!! wear helmets you doofus’s”
Lannonresident, who was actually at the fatal accident site, agreed with Leatherface49.
“I counted 5 different law enforcement agencies that were involved when I left the scene: West Milwaukee, West Allis, City of Milwaukee, Sheriff, and State Patrol,” Lannonresident posted. “I will also let you know that all of this support came at a cost- the freeways were left unpatrolled and the drunk that almost hit me got to drive home as their were no units available due to the accident. My drunk was able to from the zoo interchange north all the way up to his far nw-side home without any law enforcement in sight. As far as more laws, remember that we do have mandatory auto insurance now and we will soon have mandatory health insurance.”
LMinMKE put it succinctly.
“Your personal freedoms end when my tax dollars have to pay for the remains of your stupid decision not to wear a helmut,” LMinMKE wrote. “Laws are made to protect me from stupid people. Sadly, they don’t always work, but they reflect SOCIETY values.”
The statistics about how helmets save lives are overwhelming. The American College of Emergency Physicians back in May, motorcycle safety month, put out a press release urging helmet use.
“People are riding bicycles, motorcycles and ATVs more often at this time of year,” Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the doctors’ group, said in the release. “Now is the time to get in the habit of wearing a certified safety helmet, because it only takes one tragic crash to end your life or cause serious injuries to your brain that can alter your life forever.”
The emergency doctors then provided these numbers:
- The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved the lives of more than 1,800 motorcyclists in 2008.
- An additional 800 lives could have been saved if all of those motorcyclists had worn helmets.
- Motorists without helmets are 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury.
“Helmet use is the single most important factor in people surviving motorcycle crashes,” Dr. Gardner said. “They reduce the risk of head, brain, and facial injury among motorcyclists of all ages and crash severities.”
Wisconsin needs a helmet law.