Hank

Hank Wiesner

Reporter

Helmetless motorcycle riders and ATV riders seem to be a sort of warm weather phenomena.

They start coming out in force about the time the June bugs come out, and like June bugs, some of them never live to see fall.

Ask any helmetless rider why he or she doesn’t wear a helmet.

Down on the farm, the HR (helmetless rider) may say, ”Man, we’re in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I’m fixin’ to ride over the meadow and through the woods, bounce along the deer trails and pig paths, then roar into the pasture and spook the cattle, and maybe head to the ol’ swimmin’ hole.

“Wear a helmet? On an ATV? C’mon, dude – get real. Too much of a hassle, and besides, nothing’s going to happen.”

Well, mostly, nothing does happen.

Mostly.

But sometimes, something does happen.

And when it does, it can be bloody and painful, That’s your blood, your pain, your broken bones, and your teeth littering the ground.

Ain’t much fun, dude.

You’ll get various answers from any HR, but there’s one common thread --no one thinks they’ll get hurt, much les die, from not wearing a helmet.

It’s what I call immortality blindness. We all realize that someday we’ll die, but it’s not going happen right now.

No one ever thinks they’ll die from their own mistake, and mostly they’re right.

Mostly.

Of course, many riders say wearing a helmet is an individual choice that affects only the rider.

Of course, the facts show the opposite.

When a cyclist or ATV rider has a wreck, it sets in motion a chain of events whose ripples spread to touch many people.

A law enforcement officer, paid by tax money, may investigate the crash. Volunteer first responders, investing their own time, may be called to the scene.

A county-supported ambulance service may take the survivor to the nearest hospital. A helicopter and crew – paid for by the hospital’s patients or whatever public funds from taxpayers it may receive – may fly the victim to further medical attention.

If the victim lives, his medical bills may be paid by money that comes from the premiums insurance companies charge their clients.

If the victim becomes disabled, taxpayer supported programs will guarantee him a disability check for the rest of his life.

If he or she is unable to pay those bills, federal taxpayer funded programs may pay some of them for.

If the victim dies, burial costs will be paid by the next of kin, or by insurance money – which of course comes from money insurance companies charge their clients.

If there is no next of kin, and no insurance, the county may have to bury the victim at taxpayer expense.

In short, whether the victim lives or dies, he or she has left an emotional legacy of torn feelings, tears of friends and relatives, and emotional trauma that may last a lifetime.

The victim’s death is cranked into insurance company death and injury projections, which make it that much more expensive for another cyclist to afford insurance.

Racing cycle drivers, race car drivers, race boat drivers who all pilot speeding objects realize there is no guarantee against death.

But they realize their chance of surviving a crash – and retaining their mental faculties – are better with a helmet that without one.

They care enough about their brains to give those brains the best protection money can buy.

Next time you crank that cycle or ATV, perform a death-defying act before you even get on it.

Buckle that brain-bucket helmet on.

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