Phony gesture of ‘freedom’

The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn.: A bad idea is a bad idea, no matter how many times you say it.

Take the legislation that has cropped up in the Tennessee General Assembly, it seems, every year for a quarter-century. The bill might have a different name from one year to the next; thinking, perhaps, that legislators might get caught napping and vote it for by mistake.

In 2013, it’s the “Motorcyclist Liberty Restoration Act.” But it’s the same-old, same-old, bad idea: motorcycle helmets as optional equipment.

This year, the backers of this phony gesture of “freedom” are emphasizing that only riders 21 and older could ride without a helmet if their bill passes.

It’s hard to know where to start detailing what’s wrong with the bill. But let’s start with the likelihood riders who are under 21 and are around older riders are going to be tempted to take off their helmet to fit in with the rest.

And then there is the added burden for law enforcement authorities: Is that biker whizzing by, hair blowing in the breeze, 21? Nineteen? Think of all the traffic stops this bill would create.

Of course, the central point is that no one, of any age, should risk a motorcycle crash without protection.

Going without a helmet was a bad idea when this bill arose in the 1970s or 1980s — the dangers are far greater now. There are many more cars, trucks and motorcycles on the roads now. Speed limits are higher on average, and modern drivers are increasingly distracted with cellphones.

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