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Not Hard Headed Enough: Why the United States Should Have Universal Helmet Laws

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What would happen if Ben Roethlisberger could no longer play football? The youngest ever quarterback to take his team to a Super Bowl championship almost came to that fate. “Big Ben,” as Roethlisberger is nicknamed, got lucky when he crashed his motorcycle into a car. In 2006, ESPN News announced that Roethlisberger sustained several facial fractures and a laceration to his head, but luckily did not sustain any brain damage, or worse, death. Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet; he was riding in Pennsylvania: one of the twenty-seven states that only require some riders to wear a helmet (Pasquarelli). Motorcycles are probably the most dangerous form of transportation. It only makes sense that helmets should be required for all riders and passengers on motorcycles.
The laws about motorcycle helmets have been in an unsteady flux since 1967. Michael French and Jenny Homer, published authors in the American Journal of Public Health, report that congress made the decision to stop withholding highway construction funding from states without universal helmet laws in 1967 (Homer 415). This congressional movement was the perfect opportunity for motorcycle rights groups to protest the laws about motorcycle helmets. Kimberly Auman and her co-authors published in the American Journal of Public Health that these protests resulted in twenty-eight states repealing or changing their helmet laws in the years from 1975 to 1983 (Auman 1352). Currently, not even half of the states require all riders to wear helmets. Only twenty states have universal helmet laws that require all riders to wear helmets. Twenty-seven states currently require only some riders and passengers (usually younger than 16, 18, or 21), or newly licensed riders to wear helme...


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... Web. 25 Oct. 2010.
Highway Loss Data Inst. Insurance Inst. For Highway Safety, 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
Homer, Jenny, and Michael French. “Motorcycle Helmet Laws in the United States from 1990 to 2005: Politics and Public Health.” American Journal of Public Health 99.3 (2009): 415-423. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 25 Oct. 2010.
Jones, Marian, and Ronald Bayer. “Paternalism and Its Discontents: Motorcycle Helmet Laws, Libertarian Values, and Public Health.” American Journal of Public Health 97.2 (2007): 208-17. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 5 Nov. 2010.
Kingsbury, Kathleen. “Hardheaded?” Time 26 June 2006: 18. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 26 Oct. 2010.
Kraus, Jess, Corinne Peek, and Allan Williams. “Compliance with the 1992 California Motorcycle Helmet Use Law.” American Journal of Public Health 85.1 (1995): 96-9. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 5 Nov. 2010.


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