Thinking head first: Why I like the helmetless law

Creating a bucket list is almost as common as owning a smartphone. Jotting down the activities and experiences one would like to accomplish before their demise.

I crossed one of those experiences off my list two weeks ago. I rode my motorcycle through the Florida Keys without wearing a helmet. As a motorcycle rider, it is was one of the most joyous and freeing experiences of my life.

It just so happens an article in The Oakland Post published on April 3 dealt with the very same issue.

Guest columnist Josh Solar argued against repealing Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law. He was very much for keeping the helmet law in the Mitten. It was my trip to the Keys and riding over 300 miles “helmetless” that compelled me to write a rebuttal.

“I don’t understand why people would want to ride without a helmet,” Solar said in the sixth graph of his article.

The simplest answer I can give is, it’s kind of like not wearing a condom during sex. It’s more risky but it just feels better without one.

I want to make it a point that Solar is 100 percent right when he talks about the statistical data regarding wearing a helmet. It does attribute to higher survival rates and does help prevent brain injury. But when have we as a society ever listened or cared about statistics?

Smoking is statistically linked to lung cancer, yet people still do it. UV sun exposure is statistically linked to skin cancer, but all the women I saw in Key West were getting a nice, golden tan.

It seems to make a difference when something catastrophic happens in the person’s life or someone close to them.

I’m not going to bore anybody with statistics or numbers or try to refute the data given by Solar.  The law has been lifted and seeing helmet-less riders is now a reality.

I’ve been a firefighter and EMT approaching five years. I’ve seen death and dismemberment after motorcycle crashes. I, too, have been in a motorcycle accident that sent me to the ER. I’ve seen and lived through what could happen in an accident and I still support the repealed law.

A motorcyclist is untethered to an engine with wheels. A sudden stop, like that caused from an accident, will most definitely affect the entire body.

Injuries could include severe bone fractures — those fractures could lacerate arteries near the pelvis and arms, resulting in severing bleeding both internally and externally. A laceration of both femoral arteries could lead to cardiac arrest in minutes and the brain and head could be just fine.

Recently, a firefighter was telling me a story of a conversation he had with his grandfather years back. This very same helmet controversy was brought up and the grandfather had his own theory on the matter and it was, “the only difference a helmet makes is whether or not it’s going to be an open or closed casket.”

Point is, the risk of severe injury or death is present regardless of the helmet. Every time you shift down into first, you’re automatically increasing your chance of death.

You can guarantee that you’ll see me “riding free” through Oakland County atop my 1700cc candy red, Yamaha Warrior. And if I do meet my fate, I would have gone out with peace running through my veins.

To the motorcyclist, it’s freeing. The wind in your hair on a hot summer day, listening to the engine roar down the road is as calming as yoga.


Chris Hagan graduated from Oakland University with a degree in journalism in 2011. He has worked as a firefighter and EMT for the last five years. Email him at [email protected]