Four Democratic New Hampshire Representatives have proposed a bill that would require those riding motorcycles and electric bicycles to wear helmets. The bill would cause violators to be punished with a $50 fine for their first offense. Of course, this punishment could easily be increased at a later date.
House Bill 1621 states that “No person may ride or sit as a passenger on an electric bicycle unless he or she wears a properly-fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets standards provided by either the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission or the American Society for Testing and Materials……All protective headgear shall be correctly sized for the driver or rider and shall be equipped with a chin strap.”
Along with Illinois and Iowa, New Hampshire is one of the few states in which politicians have never punished people for choosing to ride without a helmet. Considering that many states only require riders under 21 or 18 to wear a helmet, this bill would make New Hampshire into one of the more restrictive states; flying in the face of the ‘Live Free or Die’ motto found on its license plates and in the hearts of its citizens.
Of course, riding a motorcycle (or an ‘electric bicycle’, whatever that is) without a helmet could be very dangerous. Though statistics on motorcycle fatalities by State per capita controlled for helmet use are difficult to find and analyze, in real numbers few riders in New Hampshire have died due to riding a motorcycle with or without a helmet. Regardless of its dangers, deciding whether to wear a helmet is a personal choice, meaning that politicians should have no authority to demand that people choose to wear one. Further, many individuals may use a helmet that is not ‘approved’ by the government, which would make them a criminal just the same. If politicians want to use the force of government to keep people healthy and safe, they should take our advice and ban the really dangerous foods, substances, and behaviors.
The public hearing for the House Transportation Committee will be in Representative Hall in the State House on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 1PM. Please attend and sign in under the column labeled ‘opposed’. If you cannot attend, send your written testimony/opinion on the bill to