Letter: Helmet law won’t stand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Janice MacKay
For the Kannapolis Citizen
AAA once again has put down motorcyclists, as they’ve been doing for years. From what I have found, the Carol Gifford quoted in the Kannapolis Citizen is a public relations manager for AAA Carolinas in Charlotte. What does she know about motorcycling or anything else related to motoring in North Carolina, for that matter?
How can AAA advance itself by putting down travel by motorcycle? Certainly, putting down motorcyclists is not the way toward better public relations for their organization, and quoting safety statistics pertaining to automobiles is more within their subject knowledge.
In your article, “Cabarrus earns dubious distinction of fourth in state for motorcycle fatalities” (in the Feb. 6 Citizen) I find it interesting that AAA officials claim any expert knowledge of motorcycle riding. Their incessant desire to force helmets and other torture devices onto bikers is without merit. Helmets are not the panacea.
Fact: Virtually every motorcycle fatality in N.C. was wearing a helmet.
Fact: There were many more automobile fatalities. None of them were forced to wear a helmet.
Fact: There are over half a million recalled helmets not accounted for under the DOT program.
Fact: Most of these deadly devices are on our heads! We can still buy recalled helmets, brand new in the box.
Fact: The Governor’s Highway Safety Program gets funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation and pushed for legislation to embed The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
Fact: The U.S. government does not approve helmets before they hit the store shelves.
Fact: The DOT does not have a list of approved helmets.
Fact: The N.C. helmet statute, GS 20-140.4, is bad legislation! It goes after consumers rather than helmet makers.
So I wonder why they even made this comment? How does putting down motorcycle riding, a subject they know little about, benefit AAA? Hmmm.
I suspect the answer comes from knowing that AAA is deeply embedded with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. The GHSP is probably sore at motorcyclists for trying to get the public to recognize that it has been trying to influence and bias judges (http://bikersmag.com/html/nc_judges_biased.html) in advance of helmet ticket court battles to come in the wake of the new helmet statute. So, they contact their friends at AAA to make disparaging comments about motorcycle safety in order to influence public opinion. The GHSP knows how to influence public opinion. So, they contact their good friends at AAA and get this PR person who issues a press release, and you people from the newspapers fell for it!
Regardless, the helmet statute is still vague and unconstitutional, and we’re still going to win court battles to render the statute unenforceable. Every time we take a helmet ticket to trial, this bad law is going to cost the taxpayers $872, and we are asking all motorcyclists to take all helmet tickets to trial.
Until then, AAA should stick to what its subject matter expertise is ó automobile travel. It should leave comments about motorcycling to people who actually ride and understand what they’re talking about.
If AAA really wants to improve its public relations image, it should be looking inside its own glass house.
ó Janice MacKay
Wake County
Editor’s note: The writer is director of Bikers of Lesser Tolerance (BOLT) of North Carolina and co-director of BOLT of the Carolinas.