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The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
Interesting column by Kevin Ash in Motorcycle News today. He quotes a Dr John Adams, a specialist in the study of risk at University College, London who claims that in the year after the introduction of compulsory crash helmet laws in 1973 motorcycle road deaths increased by two per cent. This was despite a reduction in in overall road deaths by three per cent. He goes on to produce similar figures for the USA, and puts forward the theory that safer operating conditions for the driver of a vehicle in creases the risks the driver is prepared to take, and therefore leads to an increase in casualty figures overall.

Compulsory crash helmets is a tired old subject among bikers, and there is probably no chance of the law ever being repealed without a major sea-change of opinion, but it raises an interesting question of what public opinion would actually be if the true picture on the results of this legislation and seat belt laws were to emerge.

No one would dispute laws that prevent actions which are genuinely proven to put an innocent person at risk, but how far is the state justified in protecting an individual from his/her own actions? Particularly if they then lie about the effectiveness of those laws in order to make their own actions look good.

Sorry if you find this a boring rant, feel free to ignore.
Re: The Nanny State - Alvin Booth
Tom,
I do feel it is a duty of Government to introduce legislation to provide safety for its citizens and is not simply a case of nanny state interferrence.
All modern countries provide this in different degrees and sometimes to different standards.
You are referring to just one item (helmets) when there are thousands of them in existence which you probably never even notice from H&S at work to design of appliance to make them safer to the user.
I imagine at work you have to conform to standards of safety which are there to provide a safe working environment which is not prevalent in 3rd world countries with an horrific safety record.
I do realise that you feel strongly on motorcycle helmets and quote a supposedly impeccable source of information. However all journals such as Motorrcycle news can find an opinion to suit their particular argument of the week.
Would you allow your son Tom (if you have one) to ride a motorcycle without a crash helmet???? or would you say its down to him to decide?
regards
Alvin
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
I reckon that if my head is going to make contact with the tarmac at any time in the indeterminate future (and it will), I'd rather be wearing a crash helmet than not.

Chris
Foreign Hols - Guy Lacey
Have just returned from a blistering holiday in Crete where I rode a variety of motorbikes in shorts and flip-flops - nothing else - without incident but purely through luck methinks. Stupid I know. I would never have dreamt of doing such a thing in the UK but did over there. Could it be I rode more safely knowing that if I came a cropper I was guaranteed gravel-rash at best?

It's no wonder the tour operators beg you not to hire bikes.

It's a bit like the advent of body pads being allowed in Rugby Union recently and the resultant gladiator style "Big-Hits" being revelled in by the commentators. There is surely a sense of the extra-protection allowing you to take the extra risk.
Re: Foreign Hols - Sandy
What about the spike in the steering wheel boss notion?
If this were to get rid of more drivers (as the government wants!) but was thought to save an equal number of other people, should it be adopted?

Cheers!
Re: Foreign Hols - Dave
Yes! The steering wheel spike would save lives. We always compensate for risk.

I happened to ride my m/bike without gloves yesterday. Damn I was careful.
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
We are all free to wear crash helmets, seat belts etc whenever we wish, but do we want laws telling us that we have to? Surely it should be a personal choice, or are we so afraid of having to take responsibility for ourselves that we need the state to hold our hands from cradle to grave?
Re: The Nanny State - Ian Cook
I'm in general agreement, Tom. However, we must also consider the cost of repair to a human being, where that repair could be avoided (or reduced) by wearing things like seat belts and crashe helmets.

Maybe there could be an insurance "cop-out" clause, such as: "any damages you might be entitled to (for injuries) will be reduced by an amount comensurate with the risk you are deemed to be covering yourself".
Re: The Nanny State - Piers
A big, but non-physical injury, disincentive to being in an accident should be introduced.

If you are involved in any accident where a party is injured you should have to do something that inconveniences you but doesn't incur financial loss or direct cost and you can't claim damages for. Such as sitting a 'fitness to drive test' at a local police station - you could be assessed on sight, knowledge of road signs and markings and have to learn first aid to a certain level in order to be tested. Take a couple of hours showing a video of defensive driving practises and accident clearup footage to alert people to need to read the roads and take precautions when driving.Have a failure require a charged retest or endorsment of licence. Otherwise a weeks driving ban - if you are injured or car is totalled shouldn't be a big deal but will stop daft claims for whiplash etc and little bumps.

Piers
Re: The Nanny State - Dave
Piers wrote:
>
Good idea - anyone who crashes should be forced to be Dale Wintons love toy for 3 weeks....
Re: The Nanny State - chris watson
i was once in a classic bike rally, and alot of people were using 1950's - 1960's crash helmets (for that classic touch), and man were they going slow (about 20 mph), but the riders using modern helmets were going about 40 mph.
Re: The Nanny State - Brian
I feel that crash helmets should be optional, although I would wear one from personal choice.
As a general principle, I am against open face helmets and an advocate of full face, having come off and slid along the road once. If I had been wearing an open face helmet I am sure that I would have needed a lot of reconstructive surgery, whereas with a full face one I was unmarked.
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
Brian wrote:
>
> I feel that crash helmets should be optional, although I
> would wear one from personal choice.
> As a general principle, I am against open face helmets and an
> advocate of full face, having come off and slid along the
> road once. If I had been wearing an open face helmet I am
> sure that I would have needed a lot of reconstructive
> surgery, whereas with a full face one I was unmarked.

And the taxpayer (and insurance premium payers) would have picked up the tab for that reconstructive surgery, just as we would if you'd been seriously injured. Reducing the risk of injury by legislation is not (just) an infringement of liberty thing, it's a shared responsibility thing. Why should I pay the inevitable cost of people enjoying the wind in their hair at seventy mph when they don't *have* to take those risks?

Keep it upright.

Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
Insurance company's and the health service pay out when someone has an accident in the kitchen too, Chris. As the home the biggest source of injury accidents, do you think crash helmets, gloves and leathers should be compulsory there too?

Besides, my original post quoted reserch that pointed out that motorcycle accidents and deaths rose after the introduction of compulsory helmets, presumably due to the "Volvo syndrome" bikers know only too well.
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
Tom Shaw wrote:
>
> Insurance company's and the health service pay out when
> someone has an accident in the kitchen too, Chris. As the
> home the biggest source of injury accidents, do you think
> crash helmets, gloves and leathers should be compulsory there
> too?

Nope. As you'll note from my post, I said that some risks don't *have* to be taken. Nowhere is risk-free. Maybe riding without a helmet should be allowed, but the insurance premium/road tax should be higher to compensate the rest of us.

Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Bill Doodson
All the regulars will know that I now use a motorcycle out of choice for my daily commute, not as far as Brian but I am doing over 11000 miles per year. I always use full face lid, leathers or Cordura jacket with armour, good gloves and boots, the kit comes to about £900 of protection. On the M62 this summer?? I overtook a Harley, he was doing about 60 in the inside lane, open face helmet, sunglasses (aviators) a vest (the ones with no arms), shorts and canvas deck shoes. He may well have had no intention of falling off, but the thought of going down the road at 60 after someone has tail endend you just fills me wtih horror. I dont belive that the helmet law should be here nor the seatbelt law, it should be down to personal choice, but I know what my choice is.


Bill
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
Bill Doodson wrote:
>
> I dont belive that the
> helmet law should be here nor the seatbelt law, it should be
> down to personal choice, but I know what my choice is.

As your Harley anecdote shows, some people don't know what's good for them. Darwinism in action?

Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
My point exactly Bill. The freedom to choose what personal risks we take is no ones business but our own. For the record, I always wear leathers and an armoured jacket, but I treasure the right to decide for myself what level of risk I am prepared to accept.
Re: The Nanny State - markymarkn
go to

www.rotten.com

and find the picture of the guy that fell off his Harley with no helmet.

that should put you off...
Re: The Nanny State - Cockle
All I will say is that too many years ago when I was 18 it had just been made compulsory to wear a helmet and I complained like hell about it, after all we all know that everyone under 20 is immortal aren't they? Given the choice I would never have worn a helmet, always wore leathers though as they 'looked cool' and, anyway, I was never going to come off MY bike as I was such a 'good' rider.
Then, dark November night, greasy unlit country lane and unlit, unguarded trench in the road and there I was break-dancing down the road at a steady 60 on my back. Fortunately came to rest with not too much damaged, plenty twisted and bruised (especially ego) but some very nice grooves in the back of the helmet. God knows what it would have done to the back of my head, but I've got a pretty good idea it wouldn't have been pleasant.
Point is, nanny did know best in my case and allowed a young idiot to grow up and, hopefully, turn into a wiser 40+ year old. I know I learnt a lesson that night in that sometimes you have to be saved from yourself.
Having said all that try getting my, just, teenage son to wear a cycle helmet. After all they're not 'cool' and he's never going to go over the handlebars 'cos he's such a good rider........

Cockle
Re: The Nanny State - fred smith
um

young males will act too cockly and take too many risks
females lack spacial awareness (factually correct all u feminists)
and older people have worse coordination/eyesight

does this mean the state should compensate with more rules ?

US rules re no motorcycle helments but everyone has a handgun, and the slightest roadside argument can turn into a shoot out would certainly cut down on road side shouting matches

actually sensible rules that can be adopted without restricting freedom, and which a safe ordinary citizen can be safe in the knowledge that they will not get caught out with can make sense

the real problem is when the safest of drivers can loose their licence for doing 35 mph a few times safely (like everyone does) but are unlucky enough to get caught... safe driving should not be clamped down on...

rather rules that help would be good...

and applying rules harshly to the section of society that trys to follow the rules, and pays up, is out of proportion when the section of society which ignores the rules geneally can get away with very serious stuff with little check and balance imposed by the criminal injustice system...

etc
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
I was chatting last night with a motorcyclist friend of mine and he suggested that the initial increase in injuries after the introduction of compulsory crash helmets was because of the restriction on vision/hearing they cause. Riders who had never worn them before would need to adjust to them. Restricted awareness may actually cause more careful riding, if you follow your own argument, Tom. What are the figures for head injuries per mile ridden now in comparison with the period before compulsory crach helmets?

Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
I doubt if that information has ever been recorded, Chris. The point, however, is that we all own our own heads. If we chose to risk slamming them unprotected into the tarmac or filling them with cigarette smoke it is nobody's business but our own.
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
Tom Shaw wrote:

> The point, however, is that we all own our own heads. If we
> chose to risk slamming them unprotected into the tarmac or
> filling them with cigarette smoke it is nobody's business but
> our own.

Until we have to pick up the tab (if you'll excuse the geordie pun) for fixing you up, then it's our business too. I don't just mean paying money, either. There is the trauma for RTA personnel, and I'm sure there are people who would miss you. Compulsory helmet wearing is not a restriction of your liberty, it just might save the lives of the dongles who don't have the sense to wear one anyway, but who nevertheless are breadwinners, sons and daughters, husbands and wives. Banning bikes altogether would be a restriction of your liberty.

Having said that, my attitude to bicycle helmets is less clear. I always wear one myself, whatever kind of riding I do, but I know racers who don't wear them because they cause overheating, which can actually be dangerous at high levels of exertion. In their case compulsory helmets would be a restriction of their liberty, in my case (and for most other people) it isn't. The Australian experience shows it does reduce cycling though, and that would be a shame just at a time when we need more cycling, not less.

Chris
Re: Cycle Helmets - Andrew Smith
Once upon a time I didn't wear a cycle helmet.
Then my (concerned) parents bought me a helmet in the vain hope that I would wear it. I didn't as I felt that it was too hot and that it reduced peripheral vision. Though I concede that I might have felt it was too uncool.
The overheating thing actually turns into an advantage on frosty morning where I dicovered that wearing the helmet prevented brain freeze (that unpleasent sensation rather like having your head put in a vice).
After wearing the helmet for the course of a winter I found it impossible not to use it. After all it's no hassle to put it on and it might save my life. It's like seatbelts. After a while you feel slightly naked not wearing one.

More amusing are the number of people I see cycling with a helmet on backwards. I'm always tempted to run after them and say something but I never do.
Re: Cycle Helmets - Chris
Andrew Smith wrote:

> More amusing are the number of people I see cycling with a
> helmet on backwards. I'm always tempted to run after them and
> say something but I never do.

This happened to the last Tory transport minister, whatever his name was. Standing there beaming with a bike in front of the Houses of Parliament, explaining how important cycling was in the Tory transport policy. Helmet on backwards (in more ways than one I don't wonder).

Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
Thats a bogus argument, Chris. Hit the tarmac with no helmet=death. With a helmet no death, but possible serious injury needing lenghty hospital treatment, disabality pension etc. Cost is impossible to quantify in these arguments.
Re: The Nanny State - Chris
I was going to quit this thread - last wordism and all that, but...

>Hit the tarmac with no
> helmet=death.

Not necessarily. The hospitals see plenty of brain-injured survivors, some of whom were wearing crash helmets. Helmets only reduce the likelihood of a brain injury (which may or may not be fatal). But the difference between brain injuries and other injuries is that if you survive, brain injuries are much less likely to heal successfully, and the effects are much more likely to be permanently disabling. The spine is an exception to this, but much more difficult to protect than the brain.

I agree, cost is impossible to quantify accurately. But road deaths are VERY expensive. In human terms, even more so. If people can't look after themselves, and the fact that people didn't like having to wear helmets when they became compulsory suggests that's true, the law has to step in to protect them, and the rest of us, from the damage they may do. Would you allow a toddler to throw himself down stairs "because it's his head"? No. You'd put a barrier across the stairs, or maybe buy him a crash helmet ;-) It's not nannying in a bad way, it's just good sense.

Keep it upright
Chris
Re: The Nanny State - Tom Shaw
I was going to quit this thread too, Chris. However, motorcyclists are not toddlers, and deserve the right to make their own risk decisions when only their own safety is involved.

Would you ban smoking, drinking more than 21 units of alchohol per week, rock climbing, etc., all life threatening activities?
Re: The Nanny State - Darcy Kitchin
When cycling, I always wear a helmet, but my philistine bike has dynamo lights, mudguards and a luggage rack. I don't know anything about overheating. If I feel in danger of approaching heat, I slow down!

My daughter, home from university, cycles to work about 1.5 miles at a local hotel but no amount of reason or rant will persuade her to wear a helmet. Something to do with her hair.
 

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