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Motorcycle helmets provide the best protection from head injury in the event of an accident, yet many riders continually protest state law requirements. A recent protest ride unfortunately ended in the death of a 55-year-old New York motorcyclist. The ride was organized by the Onondaga Chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), an organization that says it encourages the voluntary use of helmets, but opposes mandatory helmet laws.

The man was riding with a large group, protesting against New York’s mandatory helmet law when he crashed, striking his head on the pavement. Police believe he fishtailed upon applying his brakes and was sent over the handle bars. He suffered a skull fracture and was later pronounced dead at an area hospital. Police and the doctor said that the man’s death could have been prevented if he had been wearing a helmet.

ABATE’s president,Thomas Alton, said although mandatory helmet laws are a major issue, the organization’s number one priority is awareness. “A large percentage of motorcyclists killed on the highway have been because a car turned left in front of it," said Alton. I agree with Mr. Alton that increased awareness should be a top priority, however, studies have been proven that helmets reduce serious traumatic head injuries and fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in the three years after Florida’s repeal of its mandatory helmet law there was an 81 percent increase in fatalities.

Today, helmets are mandatory for all riders in only 20 states. My home state, Michigan, has been in the news over a recent attempt to repeal its motorcycle helmet law. The legislation recently passed the Senate; it is expected to be signed by Governor Rick Snyder. Hopefully, this latest motorcycle fatality in New York will cause the governor to veto the legislation and help encourage more motorcyclists to wear helmets.

If you would like to contact Gov. Snyder, send an email to, or contact your local legislator at

Increased awareness by everyone – automobile drivers and motorcyclists – will result in greater safety. Click here for tips in sharing the road.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trail lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.


  1. Gravatar for Mike

    The motorcyclist did not die of "Head injuries" as reported. He died from a blunt force strike to his chest resulting from hitting a guardrail.

    Please get your facts straight before reporting!

  2. Mark Bello

    That the man died is a tragedy, regardless of what part of his body was impacted. The post came from news reports that quoted doctors and police. Were those quotes inaccurate? There could be a thousand reasons why a person would choose not to wear a helmet, but safety is not one of them.

  3. Gravatar for Mike

    The officer was interviewed within 30min. of the accident. How could he have possibly known the cause of death so soon. Besides, as far as I know, medical personel determine cause of death not law enforcement. If you were not so quick to use this story to promote your own agenda, you would have checked the facts a little closer and used common sense.

  4. Gravatar for Mike

    Furthermore, His reasons for choosing not to wear a helmet that day are not yours, mine, or anybody else's concerns. The fact is, that it was and should have been his choice to make. As it should be any AMERICANS choice to eat junk food, jump from a plane or anything in between. It is the basis of what this country was formed on. FREEDOM OF CHOICE!

    For every law that takes that away from us (regardless of how small it may seem to you) it chips away at our Constitutional Rights and our way of life as Americans. Where do we draw the line?

    It is not the job, or right, of government to protect us from ourselves. It is also not a matter of a good decision or a bad decision, but simply a personal decision.

    Anybody who does not understand this, doesn't understand the true meaning of being free!

  5. Mark Bello

    Mike: I agree with much of what you say; the only person that a helmetless motorcycle rider has the potential to hurt (or kill) is himself. The question, as I posed to you privately, is whether our society has a responsibility to try to protect people who decide not to protect themselves. That is the purpose of these laws. I am a safety advocate; I also believe in personal freedom. Its a tough choice, isn't it? I guess I would tend to side with a society that, at least, TRIES to make people as safe as possible, rather than doing nothing when people make poor choices. You would side with personal freedom regardless of whether the choice was the safer one. That is certainly your right; I certainly understand and appreciate where you are coming from. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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