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"motorcyclists matter"

Jon K.

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#1
There is a current thread asking how many AMA members are on the boards. Quite a few, judging from the responses.

Reading through my AMA magazine the last few months; they (we) have been promoting their (our) "motorcyclists matter" campaign; looking for harsher legal penalties against motorists who injure or kill motorcycle riders.

Looks great on the surface; but I am not sure that it will accomplish anything. Will greater penalties deter further incidents? Do these drivers think "Ah; I will probably get off with a slap on the wrist; I am just gonna run this guy down".

But what really got me thinking about this issue is the AMA's long-going historical battle against helmet laws.

How can the AMA, one the one hand, get their panties in a wad when a motorist wipes out a biker, and on the other hand actively fight to allow the same (now wiped out) biker to ride sans helmet?

I believe their (our!) goals would be better served by promoting (rather than fighting) helmet laws. Rather than chasing accidents to make sure the driver is punished after the damage is done.

I'm thinking I will write a letter to the AMA, but I would like to hash it out a bit here before I do. Sort of to get my thoughts in order.
 

biglou

#2
I'm with you on this one, Jon. I'm kind of torn here. I had a buddy that thought manditory seatbelt laws were absurd, but he and his family always wore them. His response was that he just didn't want the government telling him he had to wear it. Kinda the same about the cars with the automatic headlights.

I've been keeping up with those articles in the AMA mag. It's a bit of a Catch-22. I would agree that if someone was grossly negligent, then yes, punishment should fit the "crime". But, increased penalties after the fact aren't going to bring back any deceased motorcyclists.

Mostly just thinking out loud here... Tough subject.

And yeah, wearing as much protection as humanly possible just seems intuitive to us, as we tend to fling ourselves onto the ground at regular intervals. Just the thought of doing so on the street just gives me the willies.
 
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mx547

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#3
the idea is not so much to punish the offender but by meting out harsh penalties, it will help make drivers more aware of motorcyclists. i wear a helmet 99.9% of the time but i'm 100% in favor of having the choice.
 

Smit-Dog

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#4
If the AMA took a pro-helmet law stance, I'd think that there'd be outcry from it's members who equate riding without a helmet to a god-given freedom or right. It'd be unpopular, at least initially, but I think it'd be the right thing to do.

Fine, choose to ride without a helmet. But when what could have been a simple case of road rash turns you into a tube-fed, cathetered vegetable costing a gazillion dollars in lifelong medical bills, who ends up bearing the cost?

Do you think incidents like DUIs and deaths/injuries of helmet-less riders would go down if insurance companies started denying coverage in these cases? Maybe you can't legistlate common sense, but you can *influence* the choices people make by hitting them in the pocketbook. Freedom of choice works both ways - you don't want to wear a helmet - great! But we choose not to insure you.
 
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MARK IT

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#5
The difference between the helment law and higher penalties is that the
helment law is a choice and the other is the killing of an innocent person
by negligence. What most people dont understand any more is that any
time you get in or on any type of motor vehicle your taking your life in
hand, most just dont have the balls to take the responsibility. There are so many law's now that most think that driving is a non risk activity, NOT!
 

High Lord Gomer

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#6
I was following an RX-7 down the highway one day when it kicked up a rock the size of a golfball. It hit my helmet just above the shield. Suprised me and made my ears ring, but that was all. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet, I would have caused a major accident for the 7 or 8 cars behind me. I honestly don't mind if people want to go splatter themselves across the pavement, but when exercising that "freedom" creates a serious risk for me and/or my family, then I care.

Ironically, I still don't like the government having to tell people to wear helmets, though.

I used the think of the seatbealt laws as a useless infringment on my personal choice until I ended up going in the median to avoid an accident in front of me, slung the truck around a few times, and ended up avoiding some others that had also hit the median. If it weren't for having my seatbelt on, I would have been flung all over the cab and couldn't have been in a position to continue controlling the vehicle. For that reason I believe I owe it to other people to wear one to help keep me in control of my car. Kind of like the helmet thing...I don't care if people want to go headfirst through a windshield, but if they could have stayed in control of the car and not endangered me, then I care.
 
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#7
The Harley riders absolutely flip when yu start talking helmet laws!
Here in Illinois they had one in the late sixties, my dad STILL b$%^hes about it. I personnally don't care, I'll wear mine anyway. As for the suckers that splatter themselves I think I kinda look at it like natural selection, kill off the weak ones first :p

With the thought that we don't need our governing bodies to tell us what to do, I agree with that but on the other hand, at least they would be doing something useful for a change and not renaming food or whatever other useless drivel they drone on and on about ie:Freedom Fries :eek:
 
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#8
I for one fail to see what good promoting tougher penalties for injuring or killing a biker would do, its no secret that motorcycles seem to "appear out of no where" at mach-1(or so it seems). I think the energies of the AMA would be better spent on promoting safety and that includes helmets.
C'mon, it's just common sense...
 

Erick82

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#9
Smit-dog hit the nail on the head. All you have to do is have insurance companies say if you are hurt while riding with out a helmet you have no insurance and the same with driving without a seat belt. Sure there would be one or two dumb @ss with out one on and they don't have insurance anyways.

Jaction 125, I use that darwin's theory of evolution/natiral selection all the time.
 

RM_guy

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#10
The problem is, you can't legislate common sense. The morons that run down bikers are not going to change just because the penalties are tougher. Those same jerks run down pedestrians and slam into parked cars too. Are the penalties going to be higher for those types of crimes? I hate to say they are accidents because they aren't, they are crimes.

I too have been following the articles and like Lou I have mixed feelings. I'm not saying I have the solution but I don't think I like the direction that the AMA is headed.
 

Jon K.

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#11
Originally posted by RM_guy
I hate to say they are accidents because they aren't, they are crimes.
Good point, but I have been know to drive my pickup truck from time to time. I pray that I am ever-diligent, but I also realize that I am not. Nor is anyone else on the road.

Now; let's say I look down at my radio ("Picture" is playing and I have got to change the station), and run up the rear end of a bike, busting his head and killing the helmetless rider.

Man; that sucks. I can't defend my actions, but there is no criminal intent, it really was an accident. Whatever penalty is assessed will not help the biker. But a helmet on his head would have made all the difference!

I am not looking to shirk responsibility, but I don't want to go to jail either! I am not interested in paying for his stupidity.

Now here is the sticky part. The same organization that wants to severly penalize me also actively lobbies to allow the biker to ride without a helmet.

Heck; if the guy had been wearing a friggin' helmet maybe he wouldn't be quite so dead!

I am getting mixed messages.
 

mx547

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#12
Originally posted by Erick82
Smit-dog hit the nail on the head. All you have to do is have insurance companies say if you are hurt while riding with out a helmet you have no insurance and the same with driving without a seat belt.
so what will be your reply when they discontinue your coverage because you engage in a dangerous and stupid activity-riding dirt bikes?
 

biglou

#14
Jay's right. This subject gets real tricky, real fast... And it's not just dirtbikes, either. MTB'ing, skiing, snowboarding, etc...
 

Smit-Dog

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#15
I think the key concept here is "exercising reasonable safety precautions" while engaging in an activity. If helmets (or seatbelts for that matter) are known and easily available safety devices that are proven to prevent serious injury and death, why not use them?

And to further clarify, insurance coverage is not a right. A company can choose to charge any amount appropriate and relative to the risk and liability factors involved, or choose not to provide coverage at all - period.

Gomer brought up a very good point. If your negligence in using appropriate safety devices results in injury or death to someone else, who's rights have been affected?