(John Bland) – For more than 40 years, Nevada motorcycle riders have been battling Nevada’s silly helmet law and its pathetic enforcement.
Their most recent effort is a Class Action lawsuit against Clark County and its municipalities, premised upon the undeniable fact that these entities have NEVER trained their officers on the specifics of the CFR Standard, the federal code that is at the heart of Nevada’s helmet law. As a result, riders are being pulled over, cited and prosecuted on a purely subjective and arbitrary basis because the officers have no way to identify a legal or illegal helmet.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction, barring Clark County, it municipalities and its officers from writing any more helmet tickets until they train their officers on the CFR Standard.
Backers of the helmet law frequently cite statistics prepared by the National Highway and Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the proposition that “helmets save lives” and protect the public from untold medical expenses. This is a classic “flat earth theory,” based upon cooked numbers and faulty science. Thirty-three states don’t have a helmet law and the insurance premiums and medical payouts in those states are nearly identical to those states that do have a helmet law.
Everybody knows that motorcycling can be dangerous, but so can a helmet; a 4 pound helmet at 50 miles per hour weighs about 200 pounds, more than enough to break your neck. And the overwhelming majority of motorcycle deaths come from blunt force trauma to the thoracic region, not head injuries. If helmets were so important, every person in an automobile should have to wear a helmet, because the majority of head injuries come from car accidents.
Almost more important than the issue of “personal liberty” is the loss of tourism income to the state because of the Nevada helmet law.
Most recently, Michigan repealed its helmet law, premised upon a projected increase of tourism. The study behind the repeal was funded by the Michigan Beverage Association, which predicted a significant increase in sales due to riders coming from other states which have a helmet law. This prediction is coming true and Michigan is reaping the benefits. Here in Nevada, there is some interest among tourism and trade groups to support a similar repeal for the same reasons.
Some states have premised a relaxing of their helmet law on requirement upon riders to have additional insurance to cover medical expenses. However, even skewed NHTSA statistics show that motorcycle riders already have a higher rate of insurance coverage than automobile drivers and passengers. Thus, such a requirement is not well-founded and such an additional burden on riders has no business being included in repeal legislation.
A copy of the Class M Class Action Complaint is available from the attorneys representing the Class. Contact Travis N. Barrick, Esq., Gallian Welker & Beckstrom, LC at: