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Web letter by Kimberly Klerner: Motorcycle helmet laws limit riders’ freedoms

The latest witch hunt is helmets for motorcyclists. Unfortunately, the statistics utilized while arriving at the “record-breaking number of motorcycle fatalities” are laced with outliers: moped riders and out-of-county victims taken to area hospitals. Of the fatalities, only one rider was noted as wearing a helmet.

Let’s see what else wasn’t taken into consideration. How many of those riders were at fault in these accidents? No rider gets on their motorcycle in the morning with the intention of getting into an accident. As the article stated, The majority of the fatalities occurred in 40-something-year olds. So this would lead us to believe that the riders were not being reckless. So I ask you – in how many of these accidents did the car or truck pull into the path of the rider? How many drivers said, “I just didn’t see them”? Who was texting? Changing the radio station? Yelling at the kids in the back seat?

So before you start encroaching on the freedoms of the motorcyclists – again – let’s start comparing apples to apples. A moped is not a motorcycle. If you are going to enforce restrictions, let’s start with this type of transportation. The engine size and maximum speed of these scooters do not allow them to keep up with minimum traffic speeds on most busy thoroughfares. They do not emit a noise to allow drivers to hear them, and the lighting is minimal at best. They are motorized bicycles, not a smaller version of a Harley-Davidson or Gold Wing. So if there are to be laws or restrictions enacted and enforced on a certain category of two-wheeled transportation, start small and work your way up to a true motorcycle.

Most motorcycle riders have taken an ABATE course or similar class to earn an endorsement for their driver’s license. Motorcycles require a rider to be alert and anticipate the actions of others. As a rider, you are instructed to always look for the “out,” or an alternate course should a situation arise. However, when a vehicle pulls out in front of you, there is no alternative route.

Would a helmet save lives? Perhaps. When I get on a motorcycle, I don’t think about whether I am going to die today. Enjoying the ride should be the main focus; unfortunately, I now wonder how many careless drivers I will have to watch for.

Motorcycles are a freedom. When and where I ride is my choice. But Wearing a helmet should not be up for debate. It is a choice – my choice. I know each time I “saddle up” that something could happen, but that is true for everyone, no matter your mode of transportation. I choose to believe that what is going to happen is in the hands of God and should not be a debate of the legislators of this city or state. So could we move on and tackle some issues that will benefit the masses instead of continually scrutinizing a class of individuals who want nothing more than to take off on their motorcycles and enjoy a ride with the wind in their faces?

KIMBERLY KLERNER

Fort Wayne

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