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Poll: Should RI Re-Think its Motorcycle Helmet Laws?

Should Rhode Island join other states that require all motorcyclists wear helmets?

Motorcycle crashes killed 4,502 people in 2010. In Rhode Island, news reports of motorcyclist deaths occur regularly throughout the summer and warmer months. Many of the victims weren't wearing helmets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets are estimated to prevent 37 percent of crash deaths among motorcycle riders and 41 percent of crash deaths for motorcycle passengers.

Rhode Island law requires anyone under 21 to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Passengers must wear helmets at all times.

In the wake of numerous motorcycle-related traffic fatalities in Rhode Island, is it time for the state to re-think its helmet laws? Nineteen other states have universal helmet laws.

Advocates say universial helmet laws save lives and money. Motorcycle crash-related costs was $12 billion in one year, according to the CDC. That figure counts both medical care and productivity losses.

And as more people buy bikes and ride, deaths have increased at an alarming rate. Motorcycle-related deaths have increased 55 percent since 2000, according to the CDC.

People who choose not to wear helmets and opponents of universal helmet law say it's an issue of personal freedom and a mandatory requirement is unnecessary government interference.

Govstench September 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
@nimrod: It is interesting that you refer to Nazi Germany. When I came upon the state police "checkpoint" on exit 7 I-95, there were 8 state police cars with their roof lights blinding everyone. One trooper came up to me looking for my seatbelt and I told him that "Nazi Germany died in 1944 - let's get off this and let the traffic through." He walked away from me. That really ticked me off. I have to check to see if that bill to ban roadblocks ever passed in the legislature.
DURAND'S KAWASAKI MOTORSPORTS Terry Cabral September 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM
I think putting on a helmet is a good idea. But if you are going to use one make sure it has a rating on it by rating i mean D.O.T APPROVED SNELL a lot of people use novelty helmet's you might as well use nothing at all. There are other safety items like armor protective jacket's,pant's,boots,gloves,glasses and this could get expensive but you can't put a price on your health and life. If any one needs a hand on any items come on in and i will give a discounted price all ways ride safe Durand's Kawasaki Motorsports 147 main rd Tiverton R.I.
NKGOP Watch September 18, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I disagree with such roadblocks. Even though they were approved by our supreme court, like eminent domain property taking for economic projects in the Kelo vs New London case, they are still unAmerican in my opinion. That said, any comparison to the fmr fascist state mentioned above is a stretch. That fascists state owned all business and people worked for the interests of the state primarily. It was also based on racial-genocidal policies. In our case we have a democracy where the insurance companies lobby our elected legislature to regulate the safe operation on public highways. The rationale being that folks who dont wear seatbelts and helmets incur costs on the rest of us because their injuries on average are many times more expensive and we pay either through our own insurance premiums or our taxes. Agree or not, that's far from fascism. As to that cop walking away from your political statement, what do you expect, he's a cop! If we hired people capable or predisposed of deep philosophical political thought and discussion, they wouldnt be very good cops. Cops enforce the law.
OldTownie September 18, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Hyperbole much?
Govstench September 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
It is all driven by the insurance companies for sure. However, if you have not had an accident, you should be awarded with the lowest rate. But, if you have had an accident, the rate should be up there and if you are in a risk pool and can't afford the premium, then you are off the road. What gets you back on the road you say? You get older......less risk. That is a statistical fact!
Paul Lancia September 18, 2012 at 05:10 PM
This issue is about choice. Freedom of choice, a concept that this country was founded on, has fought for and is the basis for our fundamental freedoms. I support the current law that places the freedom of choice in the hands of the motorcycle operator, not those who do not ride and/or think they are justified in imposing their decisions on others. For the most part, 99% of bikers, riders and motorcyclists in Rhode Island abide by the law. Many of those use safety gear when they see fit. To advocate that a change in the law is necessary would require a showing that the current law is detrimental to the public at large. I don't see it. Educate, don't legislate. Let thise who ride decide. These are slogans that ring true when dealing with such issues. If you ride, then you have the choice relative to your employment of safety gear. If you do not ride, then please do not interfere with our freedom of choice. I am a proud member of the Rhode Island Motorcycle Association.
Govstench September 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Well said and agree!
Ted Geisel September 18, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Freedom of choice is an illusion here in RI and the vast majority of Rhode Islanders want it that way. Look at how they vote... RI already heavily regulates motorcycles and their riders. According to the state website they are the only one to require a special motorcycle class. The state regulates safety equipment also. RIGL 31-23-57, you have to wear eye protection. There are noise restrictions on loud pipes, etc... To all those who are against helmet laws let me ask you one yes or no question. If RI were to mandate helmet laws would it save the life of at least 1 person over the next decade? I think everyone knows the answer to that. One life is worth it.
Govstench September 18, 2012 at 06:39 PM
One life is always worth it but the driver still retains the choice. I am sure if you are a biker, you wouldn't be asking that question, which is loaded anyway.
nimrod September 18, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Where's the hyperbole?
OldTownie September 18, 2012 at 07:20 PM
nimrod, Where's the hyperbole? I'm not sure...maybe the part where you compare fanatical genocide with wearing a motorcycle helmet... To say that your comparison was inappropriate is an understatement. Your seriously going to even bring up the muder of 6M people and liken it to your supposed "right" not to wear a helmet? Wow...
nimrod September 18, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I make the comparison because it took ten years in the run up to the death camps.I agree that the comparison is a little stark but the point i'm trying to make is that your freedom can be taken away in dribs and drabs to the point where you won't recognize this place anymore. Anyone who thinks that freedom can't be taken away here is a poor student of history.
Chris DeBlois September 18, 2012 at 07:48 PM
So not wearing a helmet is similar to being a bad parent, or an alcoholic?
Chris DeBlois September 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Well said Karin. I too have been in a motorcycle accident and continue to ride without a helmet. Wearing a helmet is uncomfortable; I'm always reaching up because it feels as though the wind is pulling it off. I've tried different types and sizes, but they just don't feel right. My comfort should be my choice, not someone else...especially someone that doesn't even ride.
Chris DeBlois September 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM
What you call "absence of responsibility", I see as personal preference. I prefer to not to wear a helmet when I ride. I prefer not to wear a seat belt when I drive. Do I see this as irresponsible as you might? Not at all. When you drive over the speed limit, is that showing an "absence of responsibility", or are you choosing to partake in this possibly dangerous behavior?
Bud September 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM
While I understand the risk/benefit ratio of wearing a helmet, it is a personal decision to be made by the operator and only the operator. This is not an issue that belongs in the government process. This is a case of individual choice, and the freedom to make such a choice. I have been a motorcycle operator for more than 25 years and I am experienced enough, I am old enough, and I have the ability to decide for myself whether or not wearing a helmet is right for me. Furthermore it is my belief that the state need not protect me from myself as my helmet choice poses no risk to any other individuals. Bud Cardoso Past President 2005 - 2012 RI Motorcycle Association
Bud September 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The truth is that we are all fatalities and there is nothing that the medical community can do about it. Death is a fact that we will not alter no matter how many precautuons we take.....The decisions that we make can postpone the enivatable crtainly. For me, I choose not to smoke, I don’t use illegal drugs or drink heavily. I try to exercise regularly and I eat as best I can. These are the choices that I have made to help prolong my life. I also understand that even if I eliminate all risk in life, and go into the protective bubble with the purified air and water, death will still find me. I only ask that government give me the information that I need to make informed decisions that will allow me to live. I don’t want to be protected from death. Economics--- Less motorcycles will be sold= less sales tax to the state Thousands of weekend riders spending thier $ in RI, both RI’ers and MA residents, If helmets required that goes to CT ( already millions going to Fxwds and moheg) Charities have collected hudreds of thousands(if not millions) from charity rides If helmets required that means less riders less $ to the neediest groups such as Toys fo tots, march of dimes, make a wish, etc Bud Cardoso Past President 2005 - 2012 RI Motorcycle Association
Nick September 18, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I think passengers should have a right to choose as well. This may be a good time to submit a bill that allows passengers to choose whether or not to wear a helmet in RI. If you agree contact RI Motorcycle Association. Ask what you can do to make a difference and change the law. Join, show your support. Help repeal the passenger requirement forcing you to wear a helmet. Nick Member/Volunteer, Rhode Island Motorcycle Association www.RIMotorcycle.com
Govstench September 18, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Well said Bud, couldn't agree more. This state is in the tank because of over-regulation - too many laws attempting to regulate our lives. It would be interesting to see how many motorcycle shops that are still in RI vs. MA or CT. We are dead last in New England and nationally in business friendliness. Taxes are way too high, too many regulations on small business and the state spends too much money. RI has turned itself into a socialist state and this has to change. Passing more laws, such as these helmet and belt laws have been passed before and repealed. People have spoken out against them and that should put an end to it. Give the motorcyclists a break already and pass a safety course on auto drivers - see if they can pass a road test if you have to pass something!
Woonsocket Rocket September 19, 2012 at 04:46 AM
How many fatal donut injuries happen every year? Care to check the stats from The American Heart Association statistics on that one? In case you havent noticed Obesiety is now at epidemic proportions not only in this State but in this Country also causing undue stress on the pockets of taxpayers! Having ridden a motorcycle for the last 36 years I would like to think that despite my pure lack of being a "professional" I sure as hell have more experience than most on the road including you! I sometimes wear my helmet,I sometimes dont. Either way its my choice and my decision not yours or anybody elses to make for me! Straight pipes or at least ones you can hear have saved my a$$ in the past and on more than one occasion. Anybody thats an accomplished rider will have a story or 2 about it. ask around! Instead or worrying about my choices.....put your phone down,dont text,watch your mirrors when changing lanes and stop running yellow lights! It's YOUR actions that can save my life before a helmet ever could!
scott September 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I think soda machines should be limited to 1 per square mile and the price per can should go up to no less then 5.00 per can. (4 of which is tax) Tax to pay for hospitalized obese or diabetic patients on Medicaid. But I also think that people should be able to choose not to wear a helmet. Why? Because I want to be like many of you that what to be able to pick and choose what is OK to do and what is not OK for everybody… Just like the Government. Think about it folks… Choice is precious and become an endangered species. You may get your way on the repeal some day but you may be next on the target of control. Scott L. in Nebraska ..
raven ciccone September 20, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Why do you think motorcycle insurance companies don't require helmets? It's cheaper for them if you are dead than if you are a vegetable. I consider motorcycles Darwinian. If you ride like an idiot and don't wear a helmet you are less likely to reproduce. Society wins.
NKTAXPAYER October 02, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Your statement leads me to believe you have already dumped your bike without a helmet !! 40 years on bikes and i've seen some dumb $#!+ done by riders .Some need warning labels on everything . Remove pass. helmet Law and rider won't carry one to afford the option to a would be passenger.. P.S. Some dumb crap by driver around bikes too !
NKTAXPAYER October 02, 2012 at 07:24 AM
LOL
shaun October 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Exhuast is not just to be loud it is so people can hear you that do not pay attention.
Robert E October 17, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Shaun that doesen't work because the sound is directed tword the back of the motorcycle people don't hear you until after you pass them. It makes it more dangerious for the rider because he can't hear traffic around him. A good horn directed tword the front of the bike does a much better job.
Rhodeworrier October 17, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Maybe the GA is waiting for Federal money, thats what it took to pass the seat belt law.The only time this State cares about anyones health is when they can make a buck off it.
christina January 17, 2013 at 11:06 PM
EVERYBODY should be wearing helmets no matter what! i just got mine from 2wheelbikes dot com /bike-helmets they are great on my wallet and even better on my son's head! promote safe riding people!
Janice Scarpitti April 29, 2013 at 01:16 PM
If I have to wear a seatbelt surrounded by 2000 pounds of metal then yes motorcyclists should wear helmets. My not wearing a seatbelt affects only me as does wearing a helmet only affects the rider. The only difference is the motorcyclists go and lobby to get their way such as using $ for helping children's charities. Please!
Jack Baillargeron April 29, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Current Law is fine, quit wasting time and work on the Jobs GA and Budget.

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