Monday, May 22, 2006

Wearing a helmet?

I know that helmets are not required in all states, but I am saddened by a Las Vegas TV news piece and accompanying video that went with it. A man & his 4-year old grandchild were in a scooter accident. The grandfather was killed while the child was hospitalized. Both were not wearing helmets. Furthermore, the grandchild was sitting in front of the grandfather when the scooter went out of control and hit a fire hydrant.

Read & view the TV news report here.

These reports are real bummers for those of us who love scootering. While I encourage people to take up scootering as a fun hobby and mode of transportation, I am amazed by how careless some can be. Especiallly those who put so much thought into saving money on their scooters through bargain shopping but give helmets no consideration at all. I would wear a full-face helmet whether or not my state required it, just as I wear a seatbelt in the car.

As a child, I split my lip when a softball hit my face during a game. I can only imagine what would happen to my head if I fell over at 30mph. In 1991, when I did have a crash at about 25-30mph I had no head injury thanks to my helmet. Photos of it were published in the Fall '05 issue of Scoot! A scrape started about where my right cheek would be and continued up to the top of the helmet. The visor was so scratched you would not be able to see through it. That's hard plastic, so imagine what would have happened to the soft flesh of my face...Bleaagth! I landed with most of my weight on my shoulder which had layers of skin scraped off. I now have a pale scar on that shoulder. My freckles were scraped off and they are slowly but surely coming back 4 years later.

I've heard all of the excuses before. How helmets compromise some riders' sense of freedom, how they miss the wind in thier hair, how they won't let the government cramp their style. But I wonder, if you could survey all the helmetless people that died of head trauma in motorcycle crashes last year and ask them one question, "If you could go back and do that ride again, would you wear a helmet?" What do you think their answer would be?

For statistics on motorcycle crashes & head injury, take a look at the National Highway Traffics Safety Administration's site


Steve Williams said...

It's really sad to read about an accident like this. And even sadder to read the TV report that doesn't even challenge the no helmet habits. People seem to think that scooters have some special dispensation from injuries and accidents because they are smaller and less powerful. "It only goes 40 MPH! Why do I need a helmet for that???"

Hit your head on the pavement or a curb at 40 MPH and you're in trouble. I put a post on my blog a few days ago that has a link to the ride2die. com site. It should be required reading for anyone who decides to mount a two-wheeled machine.

Freedom? I don't think wearing a helmet is any more an infringment on freedom than wearing a seatbelt is. It is an infringment on a lifestyle image though---for many scooterists as well as Harley owners. But then even Captain America wore a helmet in Easy Rider....


Zardra said...

The Vespaway blog linked to footage yesterday showing a news reporter getting on a scooter, putting on a helmet, but not fastening it. She then proceeded to drop the scooter not 10 feet later.

I think some people think that because scooters are cute, you don't have to take them as seriously as a motorcycle.