Many among you forwarded to me the story of the motorcyclist participating on Saturday in a protest ride against helmet laws in upstate New York who died after he flipped over the bike’s handlebars and hit his head on the pavement. Apparently, the motorcyclist hit the brakes, causing the bike to fishtail and spin out of control. 55-year-old Philip A. Contos of Parish, N.Y., was driving a 1983 Harley Davidson with a group participating to the 11th annual Helmet Protest Run, which is put on by the Onondaga County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE). New York is one of 20 states that require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
Not surprisingly State Troopers immediately stated that Philip A. Contos would have survived if he was wearing a helmet. Maybe, maybe not. Nobody will ever know. But an opportunity for me to remind people that motorcycle groups lobbying to repeal helmet laws believe that the government has no right to make helmets mandatory, saying that it should be up to the individual motorcyclist to make that decision. Their aim is mainly to support the training and education of bikers and lobby state and national transportation officials to invest more funds into motorcyclist training, and less into bike-specific roadblocks. Studies pretending that a helmet that meets federal standards reduces the wearer’s chances of being killed in an accident by more than 40 percent continue to be challenged by many trauma specialists in hospitals. I am pretty sure that ABATE and other groups fighting helmet laws will not change their viewpoint on this topic because of this accident.