Slowly but surely, the Helmet Law Defense League (HLDL) has been pulling information out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicating that their motorcycle helmet "safety standards" are anything but safe.
On February 19, 1997, the following e-mail inquiry was sent to NHTSA:
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 13:36:29 -0800
Subject:Motorcycle helmet safety for kids?
I am interested in knowing at what age (or body weight) it is considered more safe than sorry (to the neck) for a child to wear a 3 lb. motorcycle helmet?
Working on the theory that it is not safe to shake a baby because their neck will break, we are interested on how old that baby must be (or what body weight) to accommodate the purported safety benefits of a motorcycle helmet that complies with FMVSS 218 before the threat to the neck, caused by an added 3 or more pounds of additional stress on the neck, is overcome?
I picked 3 lbs. because that is the average weight of what most uninformed consumers generally consider the "safest" helmet -- the full-face motorcycle helmet. (The amount of force of such helmets at moving speeds is substantially greater than the actual weight of the static helmet, but that is not part of this request because we figure that you have incorporated that into your findings anyway.) I just want to know the basics of NHTSA's recommendations in this regard, and on what those recommendations are founded.
Richard J. Quigley, Sr. Deputy Director
Helmet Law Defense League
Well, they used up all thirty days their policy allows to form a response, but as you will notice, even then they were reluctant to be absolutely straight forward with their answer.
However, one thing is clear from their response; NHTSA has avoided ever testing the impact of the exchange of a threat to the cervical for protection of the cranial. They are so dedicated to their agenda of imposing helmet laws on all motorcyclists (obviously not for safety reasons) that they don't even pretend to actually know (or bother caring about) the impact of their influence. If any of you have reports about individuals who are suffering from injuries brought on by a so-called "safety helmet", please forward them to us so we can build our evidence package on the result of NHTSA's irresponsible conduct.
Anyway, here was their response (dated March 20, 1997):
Mr. Richard J. Quigley, Sr.
Helmet Law Defense League
5886-B Fern Flat Road
Aptos, CA 95003
Dear Mr. Quigley:
This is in response to your recent e-mail to Joey Synder concerning motorcycle helmet safety for children. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218, Motorcycle Helmets, specifies performance requirements for all sizes of helmets that are sold on the U. S. market. The standard does not differentiate between the ages of helmet users. Consequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not studied the effects of the weight of the helmet on potential neck injury in relation to the age of helmet users. (emphasis added)
I hope this information will be helpful to you. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me or William Liu at (202) 366-4923.
Acting Chief, Special Vehicles and Systems Division
Let me see if I've got this . . . NHTSA does not know if it is unsafe for a person to wear a helmet? That's what they're saying!
Whether or not helmets have the potential to break a neck is beyond honest contention . . . they do, regardless of the age of the kid. Whether or not helmets interfere with a rider's ability to protect himself or herself by limiting their senses is a simple fact. Whether or not the mandatory helmet thing is just a device to discourage motorcycle riding is long past reasonable denial. The only real question is when bikers are going to figure out that they need to fight back in some meaningful way, or someday face losing our right to ride altogether.