This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
Here’s a deal for the bikers who want to repeal Washington’s helmet law:
Want to ride without a helmet? Fine.
Just don’t ask the public to pay for your future of 24-hour care if your unshielded cerebellum hits the concrete. Sign away your claim to Medicaid and other public benefits for any injuries the helmet would have prevented.
Some bikers are complaining this year, as usual, about the state’s helmet law. Strangely, none of them are pledging to refuse medical care on the taxpayers’ dime.
Before state Sen. Don Benton’s anti-helmet bill gets much further in the Legislature, let’s look at a few realities about the public costs of helmet-free cruising.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control last June released the gold-standard study on this issue. A few findings:
• We knew this already, but biking is far more risky than driving a car. In 2010, motorcycle crashes accounted for 14 percent of all road traffic deaths – yet motorcycles accounted for less than 1 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.
• From 2008 through 2010, “Fatally injured motorcyclists in states with no helmet law were more than six times as likely not to have been wearing a helmet as those in states with a universal helmet law.”
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