When I was a little kid, one of the myriad of local controversies including mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. Now that I’m in my early 40s, one of the myriad of local controversies is STILL mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. In 1972, about 47 American states required motorcycle drivers (crap — what’s the appropriate slang word for a motorcycle driver?) to wear helmets. Now, there are about 19 left. Some states, like mine, require only kids to wear helmets.
It seems pretty obvious that if you are zooming along at a high rate of speed on a really hard surface, eventually you are going to fall down. If you fall down on the hard surface at 75 miles per hour, your head has a very high probability of being split open like a watermelon. But bikers insist that the freedom to go without a helmet is worth the risk.
Which leads us to the question at this blog post’s title — are these no helmet motorcycle people suicidal?
I say no. It seems like many motorcycle owners have something to live for, even when they are depressed. The thrill of riding a hog without a helmet is almost life-affirming in a bizarre way. There are no mandatory bungee jumping helmet laws (not that I’ve found in my research, anyway — feel free to post a link for one such law) and bungee jumping is considered a thrill.
I do not think that people who fight against helmet laws are mentally ill. A little wacky, yes — but not mentally ill and not suicidal. Have you ever tried to get a motorcycle lisence? It’s hard. (It is for Canada, anyway.) If you have the patience and money and balance to get a license, the chances are these people know how to pilot a motorcycle. Considering all of the problems in the world — and even in just the mental health field — mandatory motorcycle helmet laws are not very high on the list.