Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Uh oh. Seems as if the Honorable Sonny Perdue, Governor of Georgia, is willing to overturn the Georgia helmet law:

"My personal view is that there [should] be more freedom in our usage in the field of motorcycles," said Perdue, who as a state senator supported efforts to give most adults over age 21 the option of riding without headgear.
"I think this is an interest that all riders themselves are interested in. I agree with them in principle," the governor said...

Georgia passed the first helmet law in 1962. Every year while the General Assembly is in session the "anti-helmet" proponents stage a big rally and get some press coverage, so far to no avail. But that may change:

However, state Sen. Joey Brush (R-Appling), the principal lawmaker behind the move to relax helmet laws, said Perdue told him last summer, before he was governor, that he would sign the legislation if it passed. "Sonny told me when he was running that he would not veto it," Brush said.

Helmet laws seem to be falling out of favor:

In 1975, 47 states required the use of helmets with motorcycles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since then, the trend has gone against helmets, with a concurrent increase in fatalities. Georgia is now one of 20 states that require all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets, according to the NHTSA.

While I am a libertarian on some issues I've got to side with the nanny state on this one for the simple reason that it is not fair for the taxpayers to pay for your hospital care if you suffer a severe head injury from not wearing a helmet. Even Florida's requirement to carry a $10,000 insurance policy is not enough. An critically ill trauma patient can go through $10,000 in a few hours.

Hospitalization costs are higher for motorcycle crash victims who don't wear helmets, compared to those who do. Numerous studies comparing hospital costs of helmeted and unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in crashes have found costs for unhelmeted riders to average $3,000 more than for helmeted riders. And, riders who don't wear helmets are less likely to have health insurance, resulting in the cost of their care being forced on to taxpayers.

More from the NHTSA:

Per mile driven, a motorcyclist is 16 times more likely to die in a crash than an automobile driver. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces that risk by almost one-third (29 percent).

Head injury is a leading cause of death in motor cycle crashes. Riders who don't wear helmets and who experience a crash are 40 percent more likely to sustain a fatal head injury.

Studies show that laws requiring helmet use are very effective in reducing motorcycle fatalities because such laws influence more people to wear helmets. In Louisiana, the first state to repeal and then re-adopt a helmet law for all riders, there were 30 percent fewer motorcycle deaths during 1982, the first year that the helmet law was reinstated

Georgia also has a mandatory seat belt law, but I don't see the Governor planning to repeal that.
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