Motorcyclists feel strongly about whether they should wear a helmet.
Right now, a bill is moving through the legislature that would allow motorcyclists 21 and older to ride without a helmet if they have at least $10,000 in medical coverage. It is, supporters say, a matter of personal liberty. Opponents – those who support the law as it is, which requires a helmet – say it’s a matter of personal safety.
Most North Carolinians responding in the Elon University Poll oppose changing the law. It isn’t even close. In fact, 73.9 percent oppose allowing riders to go without a helmet versus 21.2 percent supporting the change.
Even among the 148 motorcycle riders who responded to the poll, 68 of them were opposed to changing the law. And even though the bill was introduced by a Republican, this issue doesn’t have wide support from Republicans (27 percent), Democrats (13 percent) or Independents (22 percent).
“A major thread in helmet law attitudes does seem to be a prioritization of personal liberty,” Assistant Poll Director Jason Husser said. “Those who supported the helmet law change also wanted to increase interstate speed limits. That said almost no group wants this change- 18-30 year old males still opposed nearly 2 to 1.”
In Michigan, there was an 18% rise in motorcycle-related fatalities, an increase which occurred over a period when the state repealed its helmet law last April. According to the Detroit News, insurance companies and medical groups want the state’s motorcycle helmet requirement reinstated. They cited a University of Michigan study showing it would have prevented 26 deaths and 49 injuries last year.
Perhaps because North Carolinians are anticipating being able to drive 75 mph (legally), they don’t trust themselves going that fast while motorcyclists are “open” to the elements.
— John Robinson