A look at lids

A look at lids

Posted by Ben Baker on Apr 14th 2016

A bill pending in the Louisiana General Assembly aims to make the Bayou State the next place where bikers have the freedom to choose head gear.

House Bill 337 is headed to the full House, having passed a committee vote. If it makes it past the House, it must go to the Senate. Passage is no guarantee it will become law. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has promised he will not sign it and said publicly he does not support it.

As expected, the bill has mixed reviews. In the House Committee, former State Police Superintendent Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, made the motion for approval. “I think a choice, personal freedom, is very important,” Landry said.

Another view from someone still involved in public safety is from John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. He told the House committee if the bill passes, he expects fatalities to rise. He pointed specifically to Texas and Florida.


Texas went rider-choice in 1997. Studies do show fatalities went up after the helmet law repeal.

The Sunshine State made helmets option for adult riders with at least $10K in insurance in 2000. Fatalities went up. Reports from other states show similar trends in fatal crashes.

As of April 2016, Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire have no helmet law. Most states have a rider-choice law and 19 require lids for everyone. Get a full breakdown here.


Whether or not helmets actually save lives is debated hotly. One side leans heavily on studies like that done by the Centers for Disease Control. A study looking at riders, crashes and deaths in 2013 says lids work.

Some people take issue with those studies, noting the researchers don’t include enough information or twist it. “But since the outcome measure they used was fatalities per 10,000 registered motorcycles, they did not take into account miles traveled. That could matter if motorcyclists who hate helmets start riding more often or longer distances once they are no longer required to wear them. In that case, some of the increase in deaths could be due to an increase in miles traveled,” wrote Jacob Sullum for Reason Magazine.

On the other end are the people who say helmets are a nuisance and keep riders from being fully aware of their surroundings. They argue, without much evidence to back that position up, riding without helmets is safer.

Another objection is a central tenet behind the right to choose - Freedom. “Since 1987, the argument has ceased to be about motorcycle helmets. The argument is now over who gets to decide what is ‘best’ for you,” The Aging Rebel wrote. “Unfortunately, the civilizing of America has co-evolved with the blossoming of the American police state.”


If helmets do save lives, how? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides a detailed look at this question: “The more impact-energy deflected or absorbed, the less there is of it to reach your head and brain and do damage. Some helmet shells delaminate on impact. Others may crack and break if forced to take a severe hit; this is one way a helmet acts to absorb shock. It is doing its intended job.” In other words, it works the same way a most every helmet works by reducing the shock to the head and spreading it out over time.

Are all helmets created equally? Definitely not. From a protection standpoint, the US Department of Transportation has safety standards and certifies helmets. Helmets that don’t meet DOT specs are not as well-built as the helmets that do meet DOT regulations.

Then, there’s the personal choice. Do you wear a half, 3/4 or full helmet? Helmet makers are also getting more creative every year.

Whether you believe in a lid or not, one thing above all else - be safe out there. Watch the other people.