Charles Umbenhauer

"It was never about the helmet, it was about choice."
—Charles Umbenhauer

Charles Umbenhauer

Click here to read Charles' bio!

politics—BIKER STYLE
Between the Lines February 2018 issue

Return Home

A Very Expensive Liberty

There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.  Well, we have all heard this before but it begins anew.  A few weeks ago myself and John Kruger your state legislative coordinator were interviewed by the York Daily Record concerning motorcycle helmets.  The article was entitled “A Very Expensive Liberty.”  Once again it is just more proof that people can throw statistics around and make them fit whatever goal they are trying to accomplish.  For example, the article reports, “When two University of Pittsburgh researchers looked at the impact of PA’s helmet law, they found that the number of PA residents dying from motorcycle-related injuries increased 40% after lawmakers repealed the helmet requirements.”  Well let’s correct that here and now. 

PA lawmakers did not repeal the 35 year old helmet law.  They modified it allowing persons 21 years of age or older and have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for two years or have completed an approved training course or a passenger 21 years of age or older riding with an exempt rider can exercise their own discretion in wearing or not wearing a helmet. 

The article goes on to report “In PA, state rep Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), has tried to make helmets mandatory again.  In 2015, he proposed a resolution calling for a statewide study to specifically look at medical costs, insurance and the 2003 helmet-less law.  There is strong evidence that universal helmet laws save lives and money, Frankel said in a cosponsorship memo, adding that he hoped fellow lawmakers would join him in better understanding the impact.  That resolution did not pass. 

Well, if I remember correctly Frankel put out the call for cosponsors and out of 203 House members he got 5 cosponsors, one of which changed their mind after a call from me.  There is just no interest in revisiting this issue and that is the way we want to keep it. 

In reality I will give PennDOT some credit for what they report such as “Researchers say it is common for motorcycle registrations to increase after state’s lift helmet requirements.  That happened in PA.  In addition, PennDOT states, ‘The death rate per motorcycle in the last few years is lower than what it was before the helmet requirement was lifted.” 

Umbenhauer, ABATE’s lobbyist said, “Motorcycle riders often aren’t to blame for crashes, he said smartphones have led to a lot more distracted drivers in cars than there was 15 years ago.”  So Umbenhauer remains committed to the view that trained riders, 21 or older shouldn’t have to wear a helmet.  Is there a certain number of deaths that would make him reconsider, “One word NEVER,” Umbenhauer said. 

Umbenhauer continued by saying it is an adults right…it is just another risk.  It is part of living in a free society. 

ABATE’s legislative coordinator John Kruger an Adam’s County resident and a former EMT, says he is choosing the safe option by riding without a helmet. 

I am sure we have not heard the last of the helmet – no helmet argument.  This year we are celebrating 15 years of riding free in PA.  Helmet’s are your choice.  Will you help to make sure PA bikers continue to enjoy their freedom of choice by marking your calendar right now for Monday, June 4, 2018 for the annual Motorcyclists Rights Rally at the state capitol at Noon?  Remember, freedom isn’t free and we will only continue to enjoy ours if we continue to do the necessary work to insure that we remain free.