Posted on July 3, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

Truth is indeed often stranger than, and more ironic than, fiction.

This weekend in Onondaga, N.Y., which is near Syracuse, a motorcyclist who was part of the 11th Annual Helmet Protest Run against helmet laws died, He was killed when he flew over his bike’s handlebars and hit his head on the road. Police said that if he had been wearing a helmet, it likely would have saved his life.

And that is, of course, the point of helmet laws: to save lives.

In a story reported by The Post-Standard of Syracuse and the Associated Press, the man killed in the accident Saturday was identified as Philip Contos, 55, of Parish, N.Y. He was riding a 1983 Harley Davidson as part of a group — the Onondaga County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) — that was rather unwisely protesting the helmet law by not wearing helmets.

I guess they really made their point, didn’t they?

According to press accounts, the fatal accident happened after Contos put on his brakes and his Harley fishtailed. Contos lost control of his bike and went over its handlebars, hit the pavement head first and was pronounced dead a local hospital. The accident happened after one of Contos’ “bootlaces got stuck in a chain,” according to The Post-Standard.

But that’s not the end of this cautionary story.

In an article in The Post-Standard Sunday, Contos’s older brother Richard insisted that if his dead brother could have done it again, he still would have rode in the protest without a helmet.

The older brother said that his deceased younger brother was a rebel who didn’t believe the government should tell people what to do, including instructing them to wear motorcycle helmets.

ABATE is lobbying to convince state and national officials to spend money on educating and training motorcyclists, rather than mandating the wearing of helmets.

The Syracuse paper quoted an ABATE official who said that the fact that Contos died is no reason to stop protests about helmet laws, since “it’s your own risk.”

Well, I disagree. If you want to take a cold hard look at this, someone who dies or sustains traumatic brain injury because he or she wasn’t wearing a helmet costs taxpayers money, in terms of police and paramedis time and using hospital resources.

Americans have enough financial worries today. The should not be obligated to pick up tab for emergency responders and medical costs of those too stubborn, and stupid, to bother wearing a helmet.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447