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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 18 Jul 2010
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riding without helmets/gear in the US midwest?

I confess to being a four-wheel type who hangs out here for the travel advice rather than an affinity for bikes but i thought maybe some of the rest of you might be able to answer something that i find puzzling.

I'm in the US upper midwest at the moment, and driving yesterday i must have seen 30 or 40 motorcyclists, of whom only about 5 were wearing helmets. Most also had no gear - just tshirts, jeans, etc. One guy had a helmet, but instead of wearing it, he had it attached to the back of his bike as he zoomed down the interstate.

Given highway speeds of 80 mph, plus the fact that it was raining, i would have thought that at the very least gear would have been a protection against the pain of the raindrops?

When I grew up in the states, everyone who rode motorcycles wore helmets. I've been gone a long time, though, and now it seems almost noone does.

Anyone have any idea of the reasons behind the change?

I'm not trying to start a flame war or anything - i'm just really curious!

Thanks!
Brenda
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Old 18 Jul 2010
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Here is a link showing a map where helmet law is in place. This is a law that is state regulated.

I too don't get the part of riding without gear. Funny thou, even Police on bikes in most states ride in the summer time with helmets, but short sleeve shirts...

With all the high tech air-flow gear, that shouldn't be necessary either.
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Last edited by T.REX63; 18 Jul 2010 at 13:47.
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  #3  
Old 18 Jul 2010
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If you don't have a brain to protect then I suppose a helmet isn't required..!

Helmetless riders make great organ donors!
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Old 27 Jul 2010
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I know it's strange.

In August 2007 I had been touring the southwestern USA on a rented Harley-Davidson for 15 days and I was really surprised of the extreme low number of riders wearing helmets.

I wanted to feel the experience, and I rode for about 20 km without helmet too, but I wore it immediately after as I did not feel safe.
Feeling the wind among your hair is really nice, but if I think about the conditions of my head after hitting the ground in case of a wreck... 100% helmet!!!
Maybe I'm getting old, (I'm 37) but I'd never ride my Harley here in Italy, Europe or elsewhere without a helmet and a body protective gear.
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Old 27 Jul 2010
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More or less it goes like this. The states along both coasts have mandatory helmet laws and the ones in the middle mostly do not. There are of course a few exceptions.

I remember California not having a helmet law when I first went down there in the mid 80's. The helmet went back on very quickly when I realized that my hair was being ripped out by the roots, one by one :-)

I can only guess that those riding without helmets are simply making a choice and accepting the personal risk. Just like a smoker does, an inactive person does, or an uptight and stressed out person does.


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Old 10 Aug 2010
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In America it probably compensates for the manual you get with your microwave with 47 pages of warnings on how not to cook your poodle in it, or all the signs that warn you that coffee is hot and might hurt you... so for once if people are forced to think for themselves, they have forgotten how to do it...

But at least they feel the woosh through their hair just before they hit the ground or their friends can scrape them from the ground - ah, the everlasting memories of that...
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Old 10 Aug 2010
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A lot of people would say riding a motorcycle is an unnecessary risk the same could be said for visiting 3rd world countries. Different people are prepared to accept different levels of risk. We as travelers and motorcyclist accept a high level of risk. Those who choose to ride without helmets simply accept slightly more risk again.
Is riding sensibly with out a helmet any more dangerous than riding fast with one? I don't know the answers but I feel that it is unwise to condem someone for accepting a level of risk for themselves. That sort of thing has led to the nanny state which we live in at the moment and is only going to get worse by us condeming others for taking a chance we encourage the state to implement new legislation for our safety and it will only be a very short time before we banned from riding our bikes with or without a helmet.
Every single action in life carries a risk and it is up to the individual to decide if that activity is work the risk to them. And hopefully it will remain that way.

My helmet is staying on though.
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Old 10 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jesus View Post
A lot of people would say riding a motorcycle is an unnecessary risk the same could be said for visiting 3rd world countries. Different people are prepared to accept different levels of risk. We as travelers and motorcyclist accept a high level of risk. Those who choose to ride without helmets simply accept slightly more risk again.
Is riding sensibly with out a helmet any more dangerous than riding fast with one? I don't know the answers but I feel that it is unwise to condem someone for accepting a level of risk for themselves. That sort of thing has led to the nanny state which we live in at the moment and is only going to get worse by us condeming others for taking a chance we encourage the state to implement new legislation for our safety and it will only be a very short time before we banned from riding our bikes with or without a helmet.
Every single action in life carries a risk and it is up to the individual to decide if that activity is work the risk to them. And hopefully it will remain that way.

My helmet is staying on though.
This is a very well put post. And my helmet stays on as well.

On an interesting note. I just spent a week in Georgia (helmet law) and South Carolina (no helmet law). Of all the bikers I saw in South Carolina I would guess that less than 10 percent were wearing helmets, on all kinds of bikes from Harley's to Beemers to crotch rockets to scooters. In other states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah it seemed to be close to half, if not more were wearing helmets. But I suppose that will change when the blast oven temperatures start dropping in the fall and winter.


....Michelle
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Old 10 Aug 2010
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Natural selection....
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Old 10 Aug 2010
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My head has hit the ground hard, with and without a crash helmet.
It must have knocked some sense into there because now I don't ride on-road or off-road motorcycles without a helmet.
That's my choice, you make your own.
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Old 10 Aug 2010
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I have always worn a helmet and I always will but people some times use the argument that
"Helmetless riders should pay for extra insurance in case they end up in a vegetative state in a hospital"

I think it would be the opposite.
The rider without a helmet is more likely to die than the rider with a helmet.

Discuss.
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