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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:08 AM

Dropping Helmet Laws to Reduce a Town’s Risk

MILTON, Wash. — Will the nanny state take away our right to drink too much soda? Will the police rob us of privacy in the name of fighting terrorism? In an era of polarized politics, the fear of government encroachment is one thing that unifies Americans from the left and the right.

But here’s a news flash from the municipal trenches, where local governments these days worry more about keeping the lights on: The discussion about government’s role in places like this struggling former lumber town centers less on philosophy or politics than on practicality, triage and risk. And now that dynamic has led to an unlikely place in the road: helmet laws.

For 15 years, until June 1, Milton, population 7,000, 45 minutes south of Seattle, required helmets for all bicyclists and skateboarders. But with its 12-officer police force stressed by an increase in domestic violence, alcohol abuse and property crime, all of which surged through the recession, law enforcement priorities now go way beyond hectoring people about their headgear.

And an inability to enforce a law on the books, the town’s insurance consultant argued, created administrative unevenness that — in the event of an accident by someone who was not nagged or cited about helmet use — posed a liability risk that could bankrupt the community with one swipe from a punitive-minded jury.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/us/to-avert-liability-washington-town-drops-helmet-laws.html

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Reply Dropping Helmet Laws to Reduce a Town’s Risk (Original post)
FarCenter Jun 2012 OP
Hassin Bin Sober Jun 2012 #1
Robb Jun 2012 #2
Hassin Bin Sober Jun 2012 #3
frazzled Jun 2012 #4
HopeHoops Jun 2012 #5

Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:27 AM

1. This doesn't even make sense. So you drop the laws all together and ADMIT in writting...

... it was done to save money?

Talk about law suit.

At least with a law on the books, the town could say the injured party was in violation. Now an attorney can say little Bobby went helmet-less because the city OK'd it.


This all just seems like unreasonable fear of "frivolous lawsuits" and perhaps an excuse for repealing "nanny state" laws. In other words, bullshit.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:31 AM

2. Can you sue police for not stopping you from violating the law?

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Response to Robb (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 11:39 AM

3. I would like to know that as well.

I suspect the city would be more liable if said violator harmed someone ELSE rather than their own self. As in a notoriously bad intersection the police failed to patrol were some innocent victim is killed or seriously injured.

Edit to add: Perhaps a case could be made at a hosted and MONITORED city bike facility. Bike trail? Sure a case can be made for anything. But not likely on an un-monitored and properly posted bike trail.

Also, I find it very hard to believe the cops are SOOOOOO busy they can't write a few citations now and then. Jeeze there is an idea. Make the fines big enough to cover the costs. I thought that's what cops do anyway.

This smells like bullshit to me.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 12:16 PM

4. You're insane if you don't wear a helmet

That's all I have to say.

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Response to FarCenter (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 12:18 PM

5. I'm not in favor of helmet laws. I demand my kids wear helmets even though two are adults now.

 

The eldest knows the benefit of it. When she was first allowed to go on excursions by herself, I caught her coming home without her helmet (she'd forgotten it). She put it on and the very next trip down the hill resulted in an accident that cracked the helmet. It meant a trip to the emergency room, but fortunately all she needed was a few stitches in her elbow. I don't have to actively enforce the requirement now - they just do it.

On Edit: The same's true with seat belts. When they first learned to buckle themselves in, I would have them call out their names before I would put the car in gear. Now it is just a "what you do" routine.

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