Regarding “Oklahoma's helmet laws for adult bikers still get debate” (News, Dec. 17): I'm an instructor and an officer for a large motorcycle association. I routinely ride over 20,000 miles per year. Each time I get on a motorcycle, I wear full safety attire — helmet, armored jacket and pants, riding boots and full fingered gloves — no exception.
Helmets save lives. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to suffer brain injury and 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than those wearing helmets. In addition to the tragic loss of life, the economic cost to society is enormous. While motorcyclists without helmets were involved in 36 percent of motorcycle crashes, they represented 70 percent of the total cost of all motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle fatalities have gone up dramatically in every state that has repealed helmet laws.
But advocating helmet use shouldn't be about losing freedom or saving money. It's about saving lives. Helmet laws are no different from seat belt laws, which have been saving lives for decades. People still have the freedom to choose whether to wear a helmet, just as they continue to choose whether to wear seat belts. Helmet laws are just the state's way of providing a little incentive to do so. They're a good idea.
Jack Wagner, Edmond