The Gainesville Sun on reinstating Florida motorcycle helmet law:
Florida once had a mandatory helmet law for motorcycle riders. But then Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature decided that courting brain damage ought to be a matter of “personal freedom" and repealed it.
It was a fatal decision. In 1999, before the law was repealed, 164 people died in motorcycle accidents in Florida. Last year 402 motorcycle-related deaths occurred here.
The National Safety Transportation Board has urged all states to pass mandatory helmet laws. The board says that motorcycle deaths are on the rise, even as other traffic-related fatalities are dropping. Last year more than 4,400 people died in motorcycle accidents in America; up from 2,294 in 1998 (when most states had mandatory helmet laws).
“Head injuries are a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes," the board reports. “Motorcyclists who crash without a helmet are three times more likely to have brain injuries than those wearing a helmet.
“In addition to the tragic loss of life, the economic cost to society is enormous … Medical and other costs for unhelmeted riders involved in crashes are staggering, estimated at $310,000 per crash-involved motorcyclist. That"s more than four times the overall cost of accidents involving helmeted riders."
The notion that helmets ought to be a personal choice ignores the fact that riders who sustain debilitating head injuries usually require lengthy, heavily subsidized health care. That fact alone should make Florida"s fiscally conservative Legislature reinstate the mandatory helmet law.