A bill, a simple bill: Senate File 2085 was defeated by the Iowa senate this month. The bill would have required anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. When friends of Caroline Van Voorhis, a 17-year-old student at Iowa City West High School who died in a moped accident, appeared in support of the bill they were asked by Mark Maxwell, a lobbyist for ABATE why she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Clearly Mr. Maxwell thinks a helmet may have saved her but he and his group are opposed to the idea of them being required EVEN FOR MINORS. While motorcycle rights organizations have done a lot of good for motorcyclists I’m afraid they are off the mark on this one.
Democrats Tom Rielly and Tom Hancock as well as Republican Brad Zaun each refused to support the bill. Senator Zaun (whose brother also died in a motorcycle accident) went so far as to proclaim that: we’re going to have to bubble wrap everyone just to protect them from everything. Said Mr. Zaun: “I think there’s got to be some common sense here.” Common sense indeed Mr. Zaun. Wouldn’t common sense dictate that we protect minors from making immature decisions that could lead to their untimely death? Common sense?
Mr. Zaun and the other senators who opposed the bill should just have courage to admit the truth, which is that they lacked the moral fiber to vote for a bill to protect minors in the face of being called “anti personal freedom”. We’re talking about minors for crying out loud, minors. The harm is what exactly? Frankly I’d prefer the state make it known to minors that it believes they should wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle (as I did when raising my daughter). Is that not a good message to send?
Mr. Zaun and the Iowa senators who opposed this bill are cowards and should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to pressure from groups who rally and protest against even laws as simple as this one aimed at protecting youth.
Iowa had a helmet law briefly in the mid 70’s but it was repealed under pressure from protestors. Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire are the only states without helmet laws. Oh, by the way, fatality rates were 40% lower when Iowa had a helmet law than the year before it was adopted.
Ride safe, wear a helmet and for crying out loud, let your kids see you wear it.