When motorcycles and scooters first began to zoom to popularity, most states passed laws requiring operators of such vehicles to wear safety helmets. Traffic experts testified that the helmets would save lives and prevent head injuries.
Cyclists complained that the helmets are uncomfortable and impair their hearing. In nine states, they lobbied successfully to have the helmet laws repealed. Repeal bills are pending in at least 20 other states where the debate between pro-helmet and anti-helmet forces is still going on.
Here recently, a third voice has been raised, but so quickly that few have heard it. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has this to say in a current report:
"Motorcycle fatalities have increased by 20 per cent in states that have repealed their motorcycle helmet laws, according to preliminary data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency has found no increase in the total number of motorcycle fatalities in states that have not repealed their helmet laws." How did the government make these findings public? In "an unpublicized document sent by former Transportation Secretary William Coleman to the National Highway Safety Advisory Committee just before he left office."
The nine states that repealed their helmet laws are Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Dakota. Maryland is among the states in which repeal legislation is pending. "Virginia recently staved off an effort to repeal its helmet law."