Motorcycle enthusiasts Steve Little of Fond du Lac, rides a Triumph motorcycle on country roads in Fond du Lac County. In Wisconsin, only new and young riders are required to wear a helmet.
"If a rider wishes to go without a helmet, that's their choice."
"Let those who ride decide."
"I believe that the helmet law should not be mandated that it is a freedom of choice issue for each individual biker."
Readers had a lot to say about this week's Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team report on the lack of a motorcycle helmet mandate in this state. Several said it should be an option to wear a helmet, not a requirement, because riders only hurt themselves if they crash.
But people who say that aren't seeing the bigger issues of life, death and health care costs. Motorcycle fatalities cost everyone, and state lawmakers should bring back the mandatory helmet law that was taken off the books in 1978.
Helmet laws save lives. They're not any different than mandatory seat belt laws, which save lives, too.
On average, states with a mandatory helmet law - there are 19 of them - save three times more riders' lives per 100,000 registered motorcyclists per year compared to states like Wisconsin with partial helmet laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA says that when riders crash without helmets, their hospitalizations costs are sky high. A study in California noted that 72 percent of those hospitalization costs were covered by the state. So we all pay for the care of people with traumatic brain injuries that could have been less severe with a helmet.
Without helmet laws, we pay higher insurance costs, too. Motorcyclists pay more to be insured, but their payouts are higher.
"Increased payouts by an insurance company eventually translate into increased insurance rates for the public, so everyone winds up paying," an NTSHA report notes.
The argument that riders don't hurt anyone but themselves doesn't stand up. A mandatory helmet law would save lives, and it would save everyone money. It's time to bring it back.