On Wednesday, January 18, the Arizona House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee made a unanimous call against House Bill 2046, a “helmet law” proposed by Rep. Randall Friese.* Specifically, the bi-partisan committee voted against a law that would require adults driving motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or motor driven cycles to wear helmets or to pay a fee into a special trauma-injury fund.
Regarding this rejection, many of the bill’s critics said that what Arizonians need is simply better training. Another critic, “Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, who chairs the [Committee], said he personally wears “every piece of equipment you can get on” when he rides his motorcycle. But he said a better legislative approach would be incentives for riders to protect their heads, rather than penalties for those who do not.” I disagree, rewarding someone just because they are “safe cyclists” is not the answer. (Should you really be rewarded for not hitting another vehicle?) The idea proposed by other critics, better and more thorough training for cyclists, may be a better solution.
Note that this is not the first time that the Arizona House has rejected a helmet law, proposed by Friese. “When [Friese] introduced this bill two years ago, the first thing [he] heard was, ‘It is my right to ride my bike without my helmet.” However, in his view, “I don’t believe it’s a right. I believe it’s a privilege.” Whatever it may be, a right or a privilege, riding unhelmeted is irresponsible.
* Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, definitely has a different perspective than many members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and of the State Assembly at large. Friese is a trauma surgeon. Presumptively, he has operated on head-injured motorcyclists. He has seen first-hand what a severe motorcycle accident can do to the brain and to the person. Having directly viewed the brain after such an incident definitely gives him a unique, and more cautious, perspective.