The latest news that a federal task force is preparing to recommend mandatory helmet laws across the U.S. shouldn’t have really surprised me. But it did and now when I consider it, I think it’s a done deal. Very soon we’re all going to have to wear a crash helmet whenever we get on a bike and ride anywhere in the U.S.
RideApart recently ran the story outlining what the current situation is and we are all now waiting for the Community Preventive Service Task Force (try saying that out loud in a full ace crash helmet) to put forward its final recommendation, which is promised sooner rather than later.
There is no way that I can see the 15 members of this committee, who were appointed by the director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), making any other proposal to U.S. Congress than recommending that all of us who ride motorcycles wear a crash helmet at all times.
The CDC is based in Atlanta, GA, and its role is to “protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the United States.” I’m not entirely sure why the CDC gets to make this proposal to Congress and who precisely the 15 members of the committee are, or if they ride or have any motorcycling background.
This though is an age-long argument that has raged from the very first days that helmets became mandatory in some states. It began way back in 1966 when Congress passed the Highway Safety Act and initially it provided financial incentives for States to started making the wearing of helmets compulsory. Prior to this there were no laws, no requirements and you could choose whether you rode with a helmet or without one.
But less than two years later, 38 states had passed mandatory helmet laws thanks to cash incentives from the government. Those that didn’t follow suit were subjected to a withholding of federal funds until a law was passed. By 1975, 47 states (including the District of Columbia) had adopted the policy.