[Author Prev][Author Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Author Index][Thread Index]

Helmet Law - some history

I suppose I should be careful after the last drubbing I got for keyboard
rambing here, but anyway, here goes.

Origins of helmet law were NTSB in the 70s - run by Joan Claybrook, under
Jimmy Carter. Theory was that they needed/wanted a precedent for a national
seatbelt law, so tried for a national helmet law (actually local laws in all
states) by threatening to withhold highway matching funds from states not
having helmet laws. When faced with the tradeoff of losing megabucks versus
taxpayer's rights, all knuckled under, and we got helmet laws in each state.
(Except - I think - Utah or Nevada - governor told em to take their
blackmail money and go to hell.)

Figured they could get their precedent because "bikers aren't organized and
don't vote anyway". (Alleged quote from Claybrook.)

National seatbelt law went in in 1974 (I think). Cars came with sensors in
seats so that they wouldn't start if your belt wasn't on. Instant uproar
from everyone - couldn't work on these cars because if you got out, it
stopped. Couldn't warm up the car in the (hopefully open) garage, interlocks
and sensors didn't work very well and often the brand new car wouldn't start
even if you did everything right, people descended on Washington (presumably
by bus) waving AK-47s, Congress got the message and rescinded the
requirement. Quickly, too.

Joan Claybrook eventually found herself out of a job, at one point offered
her services to Ford Motor Co citing her vast experience with government
regulations - Ford didn't hire her - arguably the smartest thing they've
done since canceling the Edsel. Good thing she wasn't around for the
"Unintended Acceleration" fiasco - she probably would have wanted to have
all Audis destroyed and then nuke the factory.

She's now head of some meddlesome "consumer safety" group or other, and
you're right, I don't like her, or her politics, and heartily wish she would
retire and go away. (And if I get flamed on this one, there's NO polite
apology coming - I fully intend to shoot back.)

Funny thing is, both helmets AND seat belts DO save lives and reduce
injuries. Problem is that us cranky 'Murricans deeply and bitterly resent
being told what to do, especially by our government, and will resist the
"Nanny State" by whatever means necessary.

Will Rogers said it best: "Congress is the only distinctly criminal class in
America." And that was in the 1930s!

Best Regards (And I wear seat belts in my car, and a helmet on my bike)

Mike Arman