Re: Bikers must use their heads, wear helmets, editorial, Feb. 3.
I am deeply sorry for Carrie Houck’s loss of her brother, Michael Showalter. It’s never an easy time when we lose someone whom not only we care about, but lose to an accident that could have been prevented.
But let’s talk about that, an accident that could have been prevented. You seem to think that just by wearing a helmet, he wouldn’t have died. You might be absolutely correct. Then again, it might have made things worse, and he might have died even faster wearing a helmet.
The classic misconception with most people today is that wearing a helmet is all you need to be safe on a motorcycle. Well, if the accident involves the motorcyclist traveling no faster than 17 mph, then maybe so. Please do some research, as most of us have, and you will find that even the executives of helmet companies cannot guarantee that their helmets will withstand an impact of greater than 15 mph. Fact, not just opinion.
The majority of motorcycle accidents are due to either carelessness by the person in the truck or car, or inexperience of the rider. A helmet will not make that rider more experienced.
I am 32 years old and have been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years. I have had accidents with and without a helmet. I would prefer not to have had a helmet on every time. The larger the helmet, the heavier it is. The full-face helmet does not allow you to see peripherally, does limit your hearing, and in most cases, adds enough weight to your head that it’s actually difficult to move your head from left to right, up and down, when operating a motorcycle. So, the statement that wearing a helmet improves chances of survival obviously had to come from someone who does not ride or has never ridden without a helmet.
Why do most of the motorcycle accidents around here happen? I have been in an accident, and I got to hear the most common phrase that the car or truck driver used when the officer asked what happened: “I never saw the motorcycle.” So wouldn’t you think that something a little better than just making sure that we wear helmets would be done to promote awareness to the people driving the cars and trucks on the road today, helping them to keep in mind that motorcycles are vehicles, too, and should be given the same consideration as their vehicles?
Most of us, contrary to what was said in the editorial, do not ride without helmets just to “feel the wind,” “talk on cell phones” (what?), or just because they are hot. We ride without helmets because it is our freedom of our choice, and that’s really what it’s all about. We know that it’s dangerous to be on a motorcycle. With or without a helmet, we could die just as easily.
I would like to touch on something in the editorial that I do agree with, however. Younger kids getting the new, shiny racing motorcycles and riding them at excessively high speeds up and down busy streets, with excessively low riding experience, is just plain dumb. There are, in fact, a lot of riders who have cruising motorcycles instead of the racing ones. They pay excessive amounts of money for them, but they have no experience to ride them and end up doing close to the same thing: showing off and demonstrating how much power these machines have. Again, just plain dumb.
I’m all for showing anyone how to ride safely and ride better. Those who think they know, but end up dumping their bikes because they were just showing off, or constantly get ticketed from speeding and/or abusing their privileges to ride, give the rest of us a bad name, causing most of the public to look at bikers in a bad manner. These bikers give their all for charities, blood drives, and are some of the best people around, in my opinion – a “brotherhood,” if you will, that would gladly have taken Michael’s place on that bike.
But some of us would wear a helmet in his place and some of us wouldn’t. It’s a little bit of freedom that we refuse to give up because of everyone else being careless and dumb. Why don’t we concentrate on them instead?
— Joe Cryar, Largo