Oregon Considers No Helmet Law

02/15/2011 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

I love our neighbors to the north, endless outdoor fun, progressive thinking, and an affinity for things of a more “crunchy” nature. But as a 5th-generation Californian, it is ingrained in my head to fear and mistrust the oppressive dictatorship and hate machine the Oregonians run (the California public school system starts this process in the second grade), as they steal children in the middle of the night and brainwash them into Birkenstock-wearing slave labor and questionable physical hygiene boot camps.

So it comes as some surprise that the Oregon State House of Representatives is introducing a bill to allow motorcycle riders, ages 21 and over, the choice of whether they want to ride with helmets or not (an act that misguided tea party wannabes equate with freedom on the open road).

Bear in mind that this is a state that doesn’t even let automobile drivers pump their own gas (a puzzle to just about any driver from California, Washington, and Idaho that wanders past the DMZ into Oregon’s sovereign socialist nation). Clearly Oregonian legislatures realize that their citizens are not capable of completing a task the 48 other states have entrusted to their residents.

However Oregon is in good company on that issue, as New Jersey, the crown jewel of the Union, is the only other state with citizens incapable of operating a gas pump with a motor vehicle nearby (non-vehicle spontaneous gasoline fights are apparently still game, Zoolander style), which should come as no surprise to anyone that’s seen the reality television show Jersey Shore.

Despite all this, the no helmet law circus has made its latest stop in the Beaver State. Do you trust the safety of their heads to Oregonian riders? Chime in with a comment, God knows I did.

Source: House Bill 3141 via MotorcycleUSA

  • alexontwowheels

    To quote Daniel Tosh…. FIRST!

    Um, why? why would you ever ride a motorcycle without a helmet? I believe states should enforce the helmet law because everytime the inevitable crash occurs, the additional medical costs associated with each incident will cost taxpayers more money. But frankly, if people are stupid enough to ride without a lid, then farewell to them. I just hope they’re tea partiers.

  • Balzaak

    because Johnny would’ve lived if he wasn’t wearing a helmet?

  • I spent six months in Oregon. It’s a nice place. I don’t agree with the can’t pump your own gas thing either, but there are times when it’s actually pretty nice.

    Now, I would never ride a motorcycle, ATV, or even a bicycle without a helmet. BUT, there are those who want to do so, and I say let them. Let it thin out the gene pool. Insurance companies will catch on quick enough and either drop coverage for those who go without a lid, or jack up their premiums accordingly.

    Likewise, it’s time the CPSC did away with its lead ban that has essentially banned kids from riding ATVs, all because said ATV motors happen to contain lead. There needs to be less government EVERYWHERE. Let people make up their own minds. Give them the choice, and they will make the right choice for them. As to Mr. “alexontwowheels”, I’m a Tea Partier and proud of it. Less government, less government spending, fewer entitlement programs. SELF RESPONSIBILITY and SELF RELIANCE over the government socialist machine.

    So there.

  • dirtbikekid

    Tea Partier here too. As for the argument of alexontwowheels, by the same logic, eating at McDonald’s should be outlawed.

    But wait. Do they have McDonald’s in Oregon?

  • I can tell you after doing a brief stint of living in Pennsylvania, the insurance companies don’t just jack up the rates of the non-helmet wearers…they jack up the rates on all motorcyclists. My car insurance nearly halved itself after moving out of CA, while my motorcycle insurance more than doubled.

    I’m ok with small kids not having lead-based products around them. It’s 2011 for Christ’s sake, manufacturers should already be making these changes. The spin job the MIC is doing on that is appalling. Can we stop thinking about what would help the manufacturer’s bottomline the most, and what’s actually good for people?

    Two rants in one post, I’m getting good at this blogging thing.

  • Keith

    I also think it’s BAD idea to not wear a helmet when operating motorized vehicles. So until all AUTO and TRUCK drivers are required to wear a helmet when operating their motor vehicles. Well then, in the intrest of being fair to everyone motorcyclists shouldn’t be required to wear a helmet.
    But, if you don’t wear a helmet you are one stupid, stupid inDUHvidual and should be spayed/neutered to protect our species from your breeding.
    For that matter the average car has more difficulty veiwing out of it and harder to hear from than any motorcycle helmet.

    What could I know? I mean sheesh I started riding when I was 12 and I’m 45 now without ever going to the hosptial for a moto wreck.

  • MikeD

    BAH ! NO HELMET NO PROBLEM! I always wear mine anyways…lol…to the point that i have my crew slowed down from waiting on me while slapping all my gear on…+ all the verbal abuse that follows…….AND YET…….ATGATT.
    I still take care about myself.

    Let nature take care of the evo of species…the smarter not always the strongest will live on.

  • It’s anecdotal, but we here in the east generally believe that the NJ gas pumping thing is more about
    employment numbers than a governmental lack of confidence in the competence of drivers. Perhaps
    OR is the same?

    Also anecdotal, family of mine that lives in Columbus OH once suggested that the repeal of Ohio helmet
    laws were backed by the insurance lobby. Something about lower payouts for death benefits.

    Not everything boils down tho the ever sensitive issue of socialism. But then maybe I miseed your point.

  • Brian

    Having spent two years in PA where there is a “No Helmet Law” in full effect, I couldn’t figure out why riders would willingly go helmet-less. Why risk it? I find it counterintuitive for a conservative state like PA (and OR, for that matter).

  • Shaitan

    I live in a place where it goes form 30-110 fahrenheit throughout the year, and I ride ALL YEAR LONG. Does not wearing a helmet sound nice…yes? Will I? Nope. Mind you, I also ride with full gear cuz it’s saved my skin and bones numerous times.

    I totally get the “freedom” thing and want a few less laws too, but sh*t happens and helmets have saved my gray matter SEVERAL times. If helmets also help to keep insurance rates down and improve safely for the majority of riders, I’m fine with the law. What we really need to focus on is teaching drivers how to drive! F*cking cagers!

  • Doctor Jelly

    I am NOT a Tea-Party member and despise what little of the representation I’ve seen of them. However, I am a Libertarian (borderline anarchist according to those political tests…) and do not agree with helmet laws (lead law either for that matter). I grew up in Alaska where it used to be relatively free of superfluous laws, in Oregon for two years under the helmet law and subsequently two years in Arizona with no helmet law.

    Personally I ALWAYS wear a helmet and leathers (did 400 miles in 110°+ weather and full gear last summer) but I don’t feel that choice should be forced upon others, whether I do or do not know better than them it is their decision and life to make. Hand in hand with that, I don’t feel others should have to pay for my hospital bills either. Sucks for me if my head were to meet the pavement, but I made a conscientious decision to not wear a helmet and I have paid the appropriate consequence. I was hit by a drunk driver from behind 2 years ago at freeway speeds in Oregon, and while my helmet somehow never hit the pavement everything else was ripped up (including one of my socks). I considered myself partially at fault because I did not watch who was behind me closely enough. I could have prevented that accident if I had paid better attention and if I had to go to the hospital at that time for my injuries I would not expect any one of you to pay for my idiocy.

    I consider every one on the road is out to intentionally kill me when I ride (vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, etc). If you can’t prevent people from killing you, get off that bike or expect to die due to your own incompetence.

  • gnmac

    Ooooh another reason to be proud of the state I’ved grown up since I was 5 :) Not…f***ing progressive schmucks. Helmets are a must for motorized two-wheeled riding. But then again, I ride my single-speed (no, I’m not one of those P-Town hipsters stunting on their fixies) bike often with nothing more than a baseball cap…and I know BMX riders who do crazy s*** on their bikes with zero helmet or padding…so what the hell!

  • j

    What’s with all the slamming on OR? California is pretty fucked too… bankrupt state government much? Plastic tits, plastic faces, and plastic personalities abound. 70 degree winters are nice and all, but the motherfucker is gonna fall in the ocean when the big one hits.

    For the record, I’ve never had a pump jockey argue with me about filling my own tank on my bike.

    No helmet = natural selection.

  • Dan

    A lot of people talk about having the freedom to choose to wear helmets. But by the same token, the tax payers should get to choose to pay for some brain dead vegetable’s healthcare after they wind up becoming a ward of the state. Make the law no helmet=no life support or pubic health funds when your toast, and I’m with it.

    I’m ashamed of my Oregonians for even considering it.

  • Steve

    Don’t be an idiot…just wear a helmet. What’s so hard to understand about that? If you don’t want to wear one, fall down and kill yourself well….more ice cream for me.

  • Balzaak

    @Andy your anecdotes are brilliant for the sake of making fun of both Teabaggers and commies.

    @J your awesome for being able to blast out stereotypes like that and act make it read like you believe them. By the way, it’s 55°F here in San Francisco.

    @Dan thanks for pointing out that not everyone dies in a motorcycle wreck when not wearing a helmet and if they can’t cover the cost, everyone gets to.

    out of all the states that don’t have helmet laws, how many of them don’t have seat-belt laws? Or is that just ridiculous? Why aren’t there more people upset about seat-belt laws if there’s always some sort of movement somewhere about helmet laws? Or can we just thank Mid Life crisis Harley riders?

  • JAL

    I happen to live in Oregon and I dont care what they decide, Im wearing a helmet! I like my cranium right where it is… Im not only wearing a helmet, I make sure its a really good helmet, DOT and all. So there!! FYI, I wore a helmet in Arizona, too…;)

  • TheBrain

    Law or not, I would wear a helmet. I agree with the Balzaak’s post.

    Tea Party and Less government you say… I hope you are all aware that government did not retract during Jr. Bush on the seat. It had it’s largest growth in recent times.

  • noch

    Is there a prize for the state that has the most organ donations?

    People dying while riding is bad. Period. Natural selection arguments notwithstanding.

    In the long run, increased motorcyclist fatalities will ultimately increase the zeal of the nanny legislators who wish nothing more than to police every aspect of our lives.

  • Westward

    Anyone that flaunts their political affiliations has an agenda, usually to impose it on everyone that does not share in it’s belief. Helmet law and seat belt laws saves lives, its been proven. Death is more cost effective than health insurance I suppose. Allow people the freedom to die in the manner that seems fit for them, even if it’s with the wind in their hair or the aerodynamics of a clean shaven head…

    I value my life far too much to trust it to anyone else, I never ride without gearing up. I also would not like to ride with anyone who lacks the sense enough to do the same, especially a helmet. I don’t want the added burden of getting emotionally attached to that kind of person for even a second knowing that tragedy could have been avoided through simple – though maybe not so common sense.

    I feel I may owe a debt of gratitude to the likes of Sir Hugh W. B. Cairns, and Thomas.Edward Lawrence for giving his life, to which in turn saved mine…

  • Dave

    I’d be dead a couple times over if I didn’t wear a helmet.
    If I were dead I could no longer ride.
    Being dead sounds like it sucks.
    I wear a helmet.

  • Mike

    I am also from Oregon as several others here are and I lived in Arizona while going to school. Not going to lie, but while in AZ I did wander about without a helmet a few times and on those 110+ days the best I managed was helmet (goood pants and boots) and gloves…short sleeves. Since then (and a crash or two later) I’ve learned better. I first wised up to always wear a full face helmet, and learned without crashing. Now I always wear full gear after a relatively light crash where my gear saved a couple skin grafts.

    I can’t honestly say whether I think it’s better or worse to have a helmet law…I’m just absolutely shocked that my socialist hippie state thought of the idea! Although…for a socialist hippie state, no sales tax freakin’ rocks!

    Besides, as to not wearing a helmet or other gear…everyone’s entitled to their incorrect opinions I suppose (myself included.

  • gildas

    Hello from the united socialist marxist fascist Obama lovin’ nations of Euroland (at least that what the Teabaggers call us).

    About helmet laws, and all laws actually, here the basis of freedom is that yours ends when it limits the one one of another.
    Not wearing a helmet reduces the loss of freedom of the community when you have a crash. Freedom from extra taxes to pay for your broken head. Multiplied by the other million slow learners with no helmet. Freedom from the econmy loosing that million of consumers/workers. Also freedom from having to listen to your mum/dad/siblings about how you where a nice boy before you lost your frontal lobe. Freedom from the state having to take care of your orphans. Freedom from having to supply you a subsidised wheelchair. Freedom from having a granny slipping in your cerebrum and breaking her hip. Freedom from the entire system having to take care of your lack of common sense.

    I mean, teabaggers are against abortions, and seem to consider the “life” of a couple of dividing cells far superior to the one of a grown human being? It seems that you oppose anything that gives the “right to life” to anything that’s allready been born… From protecting your criminal system of private health care that considers breathing as a preexisting condition, unregulated overpriced meds, hospitals on the Stock exchange, to helmets…

    And what happens when your son/father/brothers hurts himlself because he applied his god given right to go lidless? A crash that would have ended in a few bruises and a good story is he had? Who is going to pay the bills you can’t pay because by them, if you have it your way, there will not be any healthcare system that you can afford? Are Charles and David Koch gonna appear in a flash of white light and pay up?

    What the next deal? Freedom to drive on the side of the Road I want? Freedom from speed limits? Freedom to drink whatever I want before I drive? Freedom to let my six year old take the wheel? Freedom from driving licenses? Freedom from mufflers? Freedom from stoplights?

    Is that tea or a class 1 narcotic you are drinking?

  • BurnOut

    Darwinism always kicks in.

  • TheBrain

    Westward says:
    February 15, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    “Anyone that flaunts their political affiliations has an agenda, usually to impose it on everyone that does not share in it’s belief.”

    +1, I will borrow that from (properly cited of course)

  • BikePilot

    Good for them. I personally like helmets and won’t ride past the end of the driveway without my trusty Star strapped on, but it is simply not the government’s function to dictate my apparel.

  • As an interested onlooker, (South African) the fact that they’ve made this motion with a view of making it a law obviously means there were people (Oregon Folks) and enough of them at that who lobbied the State to consider this and pass it. In SA riding without a Lid is just plain stupid. There are so many elements against you, Mini bus Taxi’s who have no regard for rules, drunk drivers and also the state of our roads, not all, but there are some scary stretches of asphalt

    There are certain rules or the lack thereof that in principle just dont make any sense. The Autobahn in Germany for instance. No speed limit and it works. Hardly any accidents, but then again, this is Zee Germans.

    I’ve always believed in freedom of choice and if you feel the need to reduce your chances of survival 10 fold, then fine. I wouldnt, even if I visited the state of Oregon one day.

  • NoHDRiderHere

    Why does the man have to hold me down? I think that anyone playing football, hockey or other contact sports should be allowed to NOT wear a helmet. After all, it is their freedom at stake and personal choice right? Why should we stop them from getting hurt? Hopefully you picked up on the sarcasm…

  • Chrome

    Arguing on the internet about politics is like competing in the special olympics: even if you win, you’re still retarded.

    (With all apologies to disabled folks)

  • Argh. The frustrating thing to me is that the AMA typically weighs in in favor of these idiotic no-helmet laws.

    No one complains about seat belt laws for car drivers – and few people even attempt to disable those seat belt buzzers; car drivers just buckle up now, because they finally have realized it makes sense. The same Tea Party idiots who argue their God-given right to ride bare-headed line up like sheep for the TSA’s insulting security theater before boarding an airplane. Why draw the line at motorcycle crash helmets of all places?

    I have often made my feelings clear on this (http://backmarker-bikewriter.blogspot.com/2011/01/best-of-backmarker-revisiting-ben.html) but to summarize – having the AMA support this ‘freedom to ride’ legislaton is as if the NRA lobbied to allow gun owners the right to play Russian roulette.

    It’s extra frustrating because taking away helmet laws also tacitly encourages certain motorcycle subcultures that, in the long run, alienate non-riders and hurt the sport and industry. The #U@&ing AMA should stop supporting legislation that weakens helmet laws and put that lobbying effort into something more productive, that’s actually a benefit for real riders — if they did that, some day we’d be able to lane split in the other 49 states.

  • So Mark, tell me what you really think.

  • Victor Pritzker

    The National Transportation Safety Board reported that in 2004 there were 4,810 motorcycle fatalities in the United States. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported, in 2004, that immediately after implementing a law making the use of motorcycle helmets obligatory, the number of motorcyclists who died in crashes in Oregon decreased by 33 percent. Oregon law follows the federal recommendations for helmet safety standards.

    33%! Can you all read? Why is there even a discussion about this?

  • gildas

    Some nutcase will come along saying that your statistic commes from a communist funded fascist federal institution, so it is a lie. And then they will attack your personality with the idea that if you are not a Teabagger, you are a socialist spawn of Satan (in a nutshell).
    Then when you try to argue that this is madness, they will start shouting, getting red in the face, and keep on shouting nonsense untill your capacity to endure this madness is eroded into a dull migraine.
    So you will leave the argument.
    And they will cry victory.

    I don’t consider that they are capable of gognitive constructive argumentation, just of blattant bullying that depends on others remaining civil.

  • F1

    I’m a choice man,, I am guilty of cover-less cruising, as I lived in CA before the helmet law. Would I indulge if CA repealed it? possibly, nothing like a 2-up ride with the babe at a leisurely 30ish mph with conversation and the 75 degree breeze at our local sparsely trafficed foothills, sunglasses and gloves, on a Sunday morn’. Life is best lived with moderate risks. Until you’ve tried what I described, you’re missing something special. Although, when I commuted, I was armored up. ,, Canyon carving? never without the Danese one piece. But this is not about the choice thing.. It’s about the law thing and there are too many of them.. more power to Oregon.

    J – the San Andreas fault has legs in Oregon,,, see you in the Pacific, neighbor,,

  • Bad, bad news. Not only helmets should be mandatory, protective gear, too! If you’ve been in a hospital a few times or read some statistics on motorcycle injuries in *any* country you’ll agree.

  • Mario

    I never needed a law to protect myself ! I grew up in Venezuela, so I truly know what freedom means, including the freedom of being stupid….But uncommon sense told me to protect myself. In Florida, the law was repealed in 2000, and the lady from ABATE promtly killed herself a couple of weeks later on her Harley….

  • Chrome

    hey gildas,
    how is your prediction coming along?

  • Anonymous

    I believe that an adult should be able to live his life however he want’s period. As long as he or she is not hurting anyone else. Thank the sun god that here in Florida we are not treated like stupid little children that need a nanny telling us how to live our own lives. Before you bitch and moan about how “it is dangerous” just remember that motorcycling is “dangerous” with a helmet and it is not a far leap to make bikes illegal. I personally will never ride without a helmet but don’t need anyone telling how to live my life.

  • MotoRandom

    Well, if you want to take a close look at head injuries that lead to fatalities, you would best be wise to be wearing a helmet around guns. Gunshot wounds lead the list. But I do have a question. Do all of you ATGATT guys wear your helmet in the shower? About walking up and down the stairs in your house? Because that is another significant cause of deaths from head injuries. I think that the amount of hypocrisy and flat out bullshit around this issue is rampant. Oh, the “societal cost”? Why do I have to pay high medical premiums to cover the stupidity of smoking? Why are cigarettes even still legal given how many die as a direct result of usage? Do any of you think that alcohol should still be legal for sale in bars and restaurants? How many lives could saved if the political will existed to cut off drunk driving at it’s source? I believe McDonalds has already been addressed. Google “obesity epidemic” for more on that.

    There are serious big issues at play here. What it all boils down to is do you want the government to protect you from yourself? This is what we call the cost of living in a free society. As we have seen in recent weeks there are a lot of people around the world who are tired of totalitarian rule and are willing to pay that price even if it costs them there lives. It’s amazing how the United States is moving in the opposite direction. I’m sure the British readers of this site can attest to how much worse it is over there.

    Don’t pretend that this is simple issue. Sure, make a helmet law and call it good. A small token number of lives will be saved and we can get back to ignoring the tens of thousands of lives lost every year to the other causes I mentioned above. Go ahead and hide from the truth of the world we live in. OR, understand that “Freedom” TM comes at a price. We can continue to be the world leaders on the concept instead sliding further down the “Nanny State” spiral. It is our collective will or lack thereof that is going to decide our future.

    Full disclosure: I live in Minnesota. Our helmet law was repealed back in the late 70’s. Mayhem did not result. I rode for 25 years without helmet. I’m lucky nothing bad ever happened. For the last 3 years I have worn a full face helmet on every ride. I won’t leave the driveway with out it now. I guess I don’t trust my luck anymore. But I can’t tell how good it feels that this is my choice. I hope it remains that way.

  • Balzaak

    once again – I’ll say it again to all those that feel like Helmets are a way that the man is holding you down.

    Do you feel just as angered by seat belt laws? How many states have repealed that law?

    Also – Do you really think helmet laws are the big win? Do you really think this is where you should be aiming you efforts? The right to make a bad decision when riding?

  • Tom

    I don’t live in the US any longer, but I I think that every state should have no helmet laws…..with conditions.

    1. No seat belt laws for any vehicle occupant over age 18

    2. increased insurance rates on no helmet/seat belt users

    3. Helmet riders and seat belt users can qualify and receive discounts for being smarter people

    Otherwise, this idea is stupid.

  • gildas

    Some song about bike and helmets, sort of.


    Done by Belgian students…

  • Bruce Monighan

    I don’t get the “no helmet freedom choice” We are required to wear seatbelts and I don’t see any lobbying to remove that law anywhere. If wearing seatbelts is done to reduce death and injuries and lower medical costs and is deemed legitimate, why is there even a debate on helmet laws?

    I would prefer not to wear a seatbelt, stupid but it sometimes annoys me. But I comply. Helmetless on the bike makes me uncomfortable and would never even consider it. So there are my personal choices but that makes little difference when there is a law requiring compliance.

    Until a lobbyist or advocate for no helmet laws can provide me a compelling argument as to why madatory helment wearing is different and should be treated differently than seatbelts I say we need helmet laws

  • Dustin S.

    If it’s not your lifestyle then that’s that, but do not insult the state of Oregon we have fuel attendents and HAHA to you because you have to stink like shitty gas we do not!!! We have peeons to stink like gas pay them minimum wage to make them happy.

  • Mark Banks

    It amazes me looking from the outside looking in and people bring up the same old lines. Don’t want my insurance rates go up, my taxes will go up.
    I live in New Hampshire where there is no helmet law or seat belt( the only state ) laws for adults and we are always rated as one of the safest states to drive in and lowest insurance cost. We never taken our freedoms for granted ( Live free or die state ) and having worked for the insurance industries for 20 years I am telling you they lobby so hard to keep helmet laws in place is because almost 70% of bike/cars accidents have the car driver at fault with higher payouts compared to car/car accidents. Helmet laws keep the number of riders down so there for less likely hood of accidents and payouts.
    I ride without a helmet because it makes me feel safer! I am more in tune with my environment and don’t have a false sense of security that a helmet will save me. A dot helmet is tested to reduce impact of just over 13 MPH. Since the late 60’s when states had mandatory helmet laws repeal the numbers have been very consistent, of all motorcycle deaths 51% were wearing a helmet 49% were not. Wearing a helmet has very little to do weather you live or die as much as speed of travel or angle of impact. But what do I know, from reading comments on this site I’m one of those riders Darwin will take care of.
    NH rider of 30 years, all without a helmet