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Mandatory Driving Helmets A “No-Brainer” 25

Driving Helmets a no-brainer

Driving helmet photo by Jeffrey Beall

The Toronto Sun recently posted an entertaining editorial calling for mandatory bicycle helmets, labelling cyclists who oppose mandatory helmets “stupid, arrogant, self-entitled jerks”.

We thought it would be appropriate to swap the word “bicyclist” for “driver” to make the case for mandatory driving helmets:

OPINION EDITORIAL

Driving helmet law a no-brainer – Toronto Sun

FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012 06:27 PM EDT | UPDATED: TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012 06:29 PM EDT

Requiring adult drivers to wear helmets makes so much sense, we’re amazed it isn’t already the law in Ontario.

A study by Transport Canada found that 100% of the 14,000 Canadians who died in motor vehicle collisions from 2005 to 2009 weren’t wearing helmets.

“Helmet use by all drivers can and will decrease fatal head injuries,” said deputy-coroner Dan Cass.

He also cited a U.S. medical study which found helmets would have reduced head and brain injuries by an estimated 64% to 88% in 900 annual fatalities. Mandatory driving helmets are not a new idea. They’ve been the law in Ontario for car passengers under 18 since 1995.

And yet, incredibly, some motorists (not all) complain mandatory helmets will deprive them of their “rights,” sounding for all the world like motorists who opposed having to wear seat belts, when that was introduced in Ontario in 1976.

In the real world, driving a car or riding a bike on publicly-funded roads is a privilege, not a right, and comes with responsibilities.

One of those is to take reasonable steps to protect oneself from injury.

Motorists have a special obligation to look out for bicyclists and pedestrians on the road, given that in any accident between a driver and a bicyclist or pedestrian, it’s the latter two who are going to lose, regardless of who was technically “in the right.”

For that reason, the coroner’s report makes a number of other sensible, longer-term recommendations to better separate cars and bikes on our roads.

Finally, there is no substitute for attentiveness, patience, good judgment and common sense by everyone who uses the roads — motorists, cyclists and pedestrians — when it comes to reducing accidents.

But mandatory driving helmets are a “no-brainer” for motorists.

In an ideal world, drivers who are too stupid to know that wouldn’t be allowed on our roads, particularly since they tend to be the same, arrogant, self-entitled jerks who also think it’s their “right” to ignore stop signs and red lights, cut across traffic without signaling and run over pedestrians on the crosswalk.

Responsible drivers know better.

But since many don’t, a law is required.

All three parties in the Legislature should pass one as quickly as possible.

Read the original article on the Toronto Sun.

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://www.fullfat.ca Octavian

    The fact remains that ignorance and idiocy abound on both sides of the political spectrum, especially when it comes to understanding personal freedoms. People read editorials for entertainment, not to form an opinion. Most people already have formed opinions on things like helmet laws, so it’s unlikely these editorials will change any minds. Most people aren’t stupid.
    Politicians, on the other hand, are mostly swayed by the winds of change. If one of them sniffs that this is a political opportunity, they will latch on. Let’s just hope that whoever latches on to this issue doesn’t have any clout and the issue dies.

  • http://www.fullfat.ca/ Octavian

    The fact remains that ignorance and idiocy abound on both sides of the political spectrum, especially when it comes to understanding personal freedoms. People read editorials for entertainment, not to form an opinion. Most people already have formed opinions on things like helmet laws, so it’s unlikely these editorials will change any minds. Most people aren’t stupid.
    Politicians, on the other hand, are mostly swayed by the winds of change. If one of them sniffs that this is a political opportunity, they will latch on. Let’s just hope that whoever latches on to this issue doesn’t have any clout and the issue dies.

  • http://bikingtoronto.com/duncan Duncan’sCityRide

    You could even update the article with stats on driver fatalities in Canada. From 2005-2009 approximately 14,000 Canadians died in motor vehicle collisions. But, if following the flawed logic of this editorial, it’s the people who survive who really put a strain on our health care system. Those collision survivors during this time frame account for 950,000 individuals wasting much needed health care dollars due to their selfish and self-righteous actions of using personal motor vehicles. Stats via: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/tp-tp3322-2009-1173.htm

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Done :)

  • http://bikingtoronto.com/duncan Duncan’sCityRide

    You could even update the article with stats on driver fatalities in Ontario. From 2005-2009 approximately 14,000 Canadians died in motor vehicle collisions. But, if following the flawed logic of this editorial, it’s the people who survive who really put a strain on our health care system. Those collision survivors during this time frame account for 950,000 individuals wasting much needed health care dollars due to their selfish and self-righteous actions of using personal motor vehicles. Stats via: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/tp-tp3322-2009-1173.htm

  • http://www.kimharding.net/blog/?cat=9 Kim

    Well said James! :-)

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Thanks, but I didn’t say a word. The Toronto Sun editorial said it all ;)

  • http://www.kimharding.net/blog/?cat=9 Kim

    Well said James! :-)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Thanks, but I didn’t say a word. The Toronto Sun editorial said it all ;)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Done :)

  • Inesalag

    Have you seen “the good life”, on TED talks, by Michael Colville? He talks about drivers wearing helmets… :D

  • Inesalag

    Have you seen “the good life”, on TED talks, by Michael Colville? He talks about drivers wearing helmets… :D

  • Mark vd Wijden

    Wow. We must all be really stupid, arrogant and self entitle jerks here in the netherlands since almost no one here wears a helmet on the bike. Yet there are almost no casualties , thats because we have cycle paths everywhere.
    If you want people to bike ánd to be safe . Build a good cycle path infrastructure. More than 30% of the transportation here is done by bike.

  • Mark vd Wijden

    Wow. We must all be really stupid, arrogant and self entitle jerks here in the netherlands since almost no one here wears a helmet on the bike. Yet there are almost no casualties , thats because we have cycle paths everywhere.
    If you want people to bike ánd to be safe . Build a good cycle path infrastructure. More than 30% of the transportation here is done by bike.

  • http://www.facebook.com/John.S.Rawlins John Rawlins

    I have just come back from a weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. I must sadly report that the city is full of ‘stupid, arrogant and self entitled jerks’. Cyclists were everywhere and practically none wore helmets or even hi-viz clothing. I even saw young children cycling along busy roads and signalling their intended manoeuvres to the trucks and cars travelling behind. Yet another example of the cultural deprivation so evident in these small European nations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/John.S.Rawlins John Rawlins

    I have just come back from a weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. I must sadly report that the city is full of ‘stupid, arrogant and self entitled jerks’. Cyclists were everywhere and practically none wore helmets or even hi-viz clothing. I even saw young children cycling along busy roads and signalling their intended manoeuvres to the trucks and cars travelling behind. Yet another example of the cultural deprivation so evident in these small European nations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=598041184 Richard Burton

    On a slight tangent, the article here
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/great+debate+over+bike+helmet+laws/6872879/story.html

    in the Vancouver Sun, is typical of pro-helmet propaganda, but comments are not permitted.

    Apart from asking him exactly what a “bike lawyer” is (does he represent law-breaking bicycles in court?) I’d like to ask him what his evidence is for the statement “Data relating to helmet use and injury rates in populations over time are inherently flawed.”. Data from helmet use and injury rates over time is, according to international scales for the reliability of evidence, considerably more reliable than the data used by helmet proponents, but oddly, he doesn’t mention that. Check out cyclehelmets.org for the facts.

    Actually the article is so long and verbose that I’m sure most people wouldn’t get to the point where this claim is made, having died of boredom well before reaching it. As well as demonstrating the legal trait of prolix, the article is also highly inaccurate and makes many unproven assumptions which I’d love to challenge.

    But I can’t, because they don’t allow comments.

    Perhaps you could adapt it as you’ve done in the article above James?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=598041184 Richard Burton

    On a slight tangent, the article here
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/great+debate+over+bike+helmet+laws/6872879/story.html

    in the Vancouver Sun, is typical of pro-helmet propaganda, but comments are not permitted.

    Apart from asking him exactly what a “bike lawyer” is (does he represent law-breaking bicycles in court?) I’d like to ask him what his evidence is for the statement “Data relating to helmet use and injury rates in populations over time are inherently flawed.”. Data from helmet use and injury rates over time is, according to international scales for the reliability of evidence, considerably more reliable than the data used by helmet proponents, but oddly, he doesn’t mention that. Check out cyclehelmets.org for the facts.

    Actually the article is so long and verbose that I’m sure most people wouldn’t get to the point where this claim is made, having died of boredom well before reaching it. As well as demonstrating the legal trait of prolix, the article is also highly inaccurate and makes many unproven assumptions which I’d love to challenge.

    But I can’t, because they don’t allow comments.

    Perhaps you could adapt it as you’ve done in the article above James?

  • Nomisspeggysue

    I would think that if cyclists need to wear helmets than so should pedestrians. Actually I think everyone that leaves the house should wear a helmet. We would definitely save lives and drive down the cost of insurance.

    in 2008, there were 716 bicyclists deaths in usa
    In 2008, there were 4,378 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents across the United States.

  • Nomisspeggysue

    I would think that if cyclists need to wear helmets than so should pedestrians. Actually I think everyone that leaves the house should wear a helmet. We would definitely save lives and drive down the cost of insurance.

    in 2008, there were 716 bicyclists deaths in usa
    In 2008, there were 4,378 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents across the United States.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O4G2QBIS7IP3R5RDIDVTMJJASI Mark

    In the US, cycling is responsible for the most head injuries in sport and recreation. Airbags reduce advantages of helmets in cars, so mandate on bikes! Helmet shown in photo of little value as airbag will still cause facial lacerations.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O4G2QBIS7IP3R5RDIDVTMJJASI Mark

    In the US, cycling is responsible for the most head injuries in sport and recreation. Airbags reduce advantages of helmets in cars, so mandate on bikes! Helmet shown in photo of little value as airbag will still cause facial lacerations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cullen-Carter/1012508565 Cullen Carter

    For personal reasons, I’m not totally against such a law. Still, It’s very ridiculous for the government to lawfully enforce common sense things.

    It’s like enforcing a mandatory minimum-number-of-breaths-law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cullen-Carter/1012508565 Cullen Carter

    For personal reasons, I’m not totally against such a law. Still, It’s very ridiculous for the government to lawfully enforce common sense things.

    It’s like enforcing a mandatory minimum-number-of-breaths-law.

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