By: Reine Knobbe
As most of you are aware, the new helmet law went into effect the end of August. The law states that Missouri motorcyclists ages 26 and older can ride without a helmet, if they have both medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility. A national highway safety organization urged the governor to veto the bill, saying the helmet law saves lives and prevents life-long brain trauma. The organization “Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety” also worries the new law will be difficult to enforce, saying it will be hard for police to know if a motorcyclist is 26 or older. Supporters of repealing the helmet law say it’s an issue of freedom. They say Missourians 26 or older should be able to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet.
No matter which side of the fence you are on, it is now a choice. Now that we are given the choice, we have to be informed citizens. We all know that riding motorcycles come with risks. These risks include: poor decisions by the operator; hazards created by other motorists; weather; wildlife, and helmet use. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Helmet use is about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries”.
We do not have control over hazards created by other motorists, the weather or wildlife. We do have control over operator “error” and helmets. Operator errors include: driving under the influence; driving tired; driving and texting (yes! I’ve seen it); driving too hot; driving too cold; not being completely focused on other drivers; riding in blind spots; going through an intersection too quickly. The list goes on.
Bottom line is to do what we can to stay safe.
- Don’t drink and ride
- Get plenty of sleep
- Never operate your phone (calling or texting) while riding
- Wear proper gear to prevent overheating or being too cold
- Wear a helmet to prevent head injury
- Focus on the task at hand to prevent riding in blind spots; going too quickly through intersections; watching out for other drivers
Chariots of Fire Customs LLC carries the following protective gear: leather coats, chaps, gloves, and helmets. We have vendors that sell jackets with Kevlar in them for extra protection in your jackets; heated gloves and jackets; pretty much anything you need. Not boots though. Even though I’m a big proponent of ALWAYS wearing boots, even in the hot summer. I recommend going to Chucks Boots for protective foot wear.
As for me, I choose the following protective gear: boots and long jeans and helmet ALWAYS no matter the weather. I will continue to monitor my driver for his alertness (Jan did you sleep well?); his drinking habits (it’s hot out, drink water! Are you SURE you only had a couple of drinks?); and my driver has me help him when I can (Reine, which way do I turn? #$#*# “I thought you said left!” Reine, wake up! Help me keep an eye out for deer). What am I lacking and choose to take a risk with? My arms. I like to get sun on them and choose to ride in t-shirts and tank tops in the summer. There are some light-weight jackets out there and I have a summer one I will wear after dark as it is reflective, but not when the sun is out.
Enjoy your freedom. Enjoy the road. We all take a risk stepping outside our front door, but we do it anyway!