There are few more controversial topics among bikers than mandatory helmet laws. Through the early 1980s, states across the country made wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle mandatory, as a means of improving the chances of a rider in the event of an accident.
But then the backlash began. Anti-helmet forces lobbied to remove the requirement, and today, there are only 19 states with mandatory helmet laws. Pennsylvania's law only applies to riders age 20 or younger. Some of those groups are now working to prevent funding of motorcycle checkpoints, which many bikers see as discriminatory.
These motorcycle groups favor training programs that improve rider's skills and prevent accidents. However, the statistics suggest that the training programs will need to improve a great deal.
Florida experienced 515 motorcycle deaths in the three years prior to the repeal of the helmet law. In the three years after the repeal in 2000, the death toll jumped to 933. Two-thirds of those who died were not wearing a helmet.
While many of the biker groups stress their freedom to choose and personal autonomy, there is a larger picture. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, the state police, county sheriffs, local fire departments and ambulance services must respond. The cost of these services are considerable and are borne, eventually, by everyone in Pennsylvania.
If a rider is severely injured, and suffers a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, not only will they face tremendous medical expenses, and if your insurance compensation is inadequate, you may wind up on a government program like Social Security Disability, and may require additional support.
In Pennsylvania, if you are 21, the decision to wear a helmet is yours. But if you are injured, consider the potential price you will pay.
Usnews.com, "Biker Allies in Congress Want to Slam Brakes on Helmet Enforcement," Steven Nelson, April 17, 2015