Motorcycle riders without helmets

By Melissa Martin

I’m going to be blunt. Motorcycle riders not wearing helmets give me acid indigestion. Frustration comes before the acid reflux when I spy no helmet, short sleeves, bare legs and a backseat rider with sandals. And no helmet.

People! Do you not like skin on your body? Because you won’t have skin if you skid out of control and eat the pavement. And road rash is not attractive.

People! Do you not like your brain? Because you won’t have much of one left when your skull meets the back of a semi. Concussions R US.

People! Potholes in Ohio are a reality. A Harley hog hitting a hole is not pretty. Where and when did you lose that part of your mind that uses logical?

Okay, I’m breathing in and out and calming down. And imagining fluffy puppies.

More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. The motorcycle itself provides no head injury protection to the rider or passenger. Ejection from the motorcycle is a common injury pathway. If a motorcycle comes to a sudden stop and the rider is ejected from the motorcycle, the rider will forcibly strike objects in the path as well as the ground.

After your diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, your mom will be compelled to say to her friends at the weekend flea market, “His father and I told him umpteen times to wear a helmet, but he just wouldn’t listen.” Your granny will spoon-feed you tapioca pudding—you hated it as a toddler and you hate it now. Your annoying younger brother will borrow (and never return) all your cool motorcycle garb because you will never wear it again because you wrecked while not protecting your cranium with a helmet.

Ohio Revised Code: 4511.53 Operation of motorcycles. Ohio law requires a motorcyclist to wear a helmet if he or she is under 18 years of age or if he or she is within the first year of getting a motorcycle license or driving with a temporary permit.

Universal helmet law repealed 1978. What rocket scientist was in charge of this legislation?

In Ohio, there were 133 motorcycle fatalities in 2013 and 200 deaths in 2016, but that number fell to 157 in 2017, with 144 deaths in 2018, according to the State Highway Patrol crash statistics.

From 2005 through 2007, there were 15,467 motorcycle riders involved in a crash in Ohio—79 percent experienced an injury and 440 died at the scene or after arrival to the hospital. There were 1,561 injured riders who sustained a motorcycle crash-related traumatic brain injury (TBI), and 73 percent were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Brain injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

I can hear naysayers now, “It’s freedom of choice whether I choose to wear a helmet or not. It’s my choice whether my skull hits a wall and fractures into 101 pieces.” Well, how’s that work’n for ya in the emergency room after a crash?

The helmet at work. The single most important safety device a motorcyclist can have is a helmet. Motorcycle helmets have a hard outer shell that distributes the force of an impact to protect the skull and prevents objects from piercing it. The crushable inner liner limits the force of impacts by absorbing a portion of the energy that would otherwise reach the head and brain. As the helmet does its job, the number and severity of head injuries are significantly reduced.

Motor Cycle Ohio program: Section 4508.08 of the Ohio Revised Code, requires that a motorcycle safety and education program be established within the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). Additionally, O.R.C. Section 4507.21 requires 15 1⁄2 and 17-year old’s to complete a motorcycle safety and education course to be eligible to receive a license or endorsement to operate a motorcycle. Funding for the program is established under O.R.C. Section 4501.13 which requires that $6.00 from each annual motorcycle registration fee be deposited into the Motorcycle Safety and Education Fund to support the operations of the program.

The “Saved by the Helmet” Club increases awareness about the life-saving value of motorcycle helmets by recognizing individuals who survive serious crashes while wearing a helmet.

Ah, my esophagus is neutralizing. Kudos to the Motor Cycle Ohio program.

And reinstate the Universal Helmet Law in Ohio. Duh.

Please note that this column is my attempt at penning sarcastic humor about a serious topic. Are you chuckling? Or grabbing something for your own heartburn.


By Melissa Martin