This is the kind of story no one wants to report. We believe and defend everyone’s right to free speech and beliefs. This story is nothing but tragic. But sometimes, out of tragedy and sadness, lessons can be learned.
On July 4, 2011, ABC World News reported that Philip A. Contos, 55, died while participating in a ride with 550 other motorcyclists to protest the state’s mandatory helmet law. With so many witnesses, the details are clear: Contos hit the brakes, and his Harley Davidson motorcycle fishtailed. He was thrown over the handlebars, hit his head on the pavement, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to a State Trooper interviewed by ABC News:
“The medical expert we discussed the case with who pronounced him [Contos] deceased stated that he would’ve no doubt survived the accident had he been wearing a helmet,” state Trooper Jack Keller told ABC News 9 in Syracuse. [ABC World News]
The rally rid was sponsored by ABATE–American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. Their goal is to promote motorcycle awareness and freedom. Despite the death, ABATE still supports the repeal of helmet laws. According to the ABATE of New York website:
“Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent accidents. The decision on when to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle should remain with each responsible adult rider.”
It is true that wearing a helmet does nothing to prevent accidents. However, it is also true that in the event of an accident, a biker wearing a helmet is more likely to survive a head injury, and will have less brain injury than a biker not wearing a helmet. It’s like saying steel-toed shoes won’t prevent warehouse accidents–true, but they will protect your toes should something fall on your foot.
According to a recent report by the Insurance Journal, Delaware (the only state included in the report) saw deaths from motorcycle crashes increase by more than 300% in the past year, compared with the previous year. Of those deaths, 80% occurred when riders were not wearing helmets.
At HensonFuerst, we have seen the aftermath of severe head and brain injury caused by auto and motorcycle wrecks, and we have represented and consoled many families grieving the loss of a loved one. From our perspective, helmet laws are in place to protect people who might be too short-sighted to recognize the physical damage that can occur after just a split second of poor judgment…or after another motorist causes an accident…or when road conditions become treacherous.
We’re not saying motorcyclists are unsafe–some of the bikers we know are better and safer on the road than many car drivers. We’re saying that protections are needed so that everyone stays as healthy and intact as possible should the worst occur.
To read more about motor vehicle safety, please feel free to visit our website at https://www.lawmed.com/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.