It’s For Your Own Good

Oh, how the righteous love to legislate for our own good. The helmet law for motorcyclists was an early example of this egregious philosophy. It is not the place of the law to protect us from ourselves, it is the place of the law to act in the event of force by others – or, at least, it should be. However, the principle has become entrenched in the national psyche. So, it isn’t any great surprise to see that medics are calling for compulsory helmets for quad bike riders.

Doctors say the law should be changed to force people who use road legal quad bikes to wear helmets.

Accident and emergency medics say lives are put at risk because riders do not have to wear protective gear – despite the fact the bikes can reach 90mph.

I presume, of course, that this will apply to trikes, too.

And just how many deaths from head injuries have there been anyway? And, frankly, if people want to ride one of these machines without a helmet and suffer the discomfort of wind and flies in the face, that, surely, is up to them. They know the risks. And, dead is dead. Surely it is the morturaly folk who should be complaining about picking up the pieces, not A&E?

Ah, but people making up their own mind about the risks they face is not what the control freaks want to hear, is it? That said, government is not about to engage in a knee-jerk reaction, apparently.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said there are no plans to make helmets compulsory but added that he will keep the matter under review.

Good to see that there are no plans, but what is there to keep under review? A relatively minor type of road vehicle poses a potential type of injury risk to the user, that the user knows about and chooses to accept? There is nothing to review.

However the government says it does strongly advise riders to wear helmets.

Yeah, fine, so would I, but ultimately, I’m not the rider and it is not up to me to tell people how to manage their own exposure to risk.

The DVLA does not keep specific figures on the number of road legal quads but the main UK suppliers say that since 2005 they have gone from selling a few hundred each year to thousands.

It is that boom in popularity that worries Dr John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine.

A few thousand is hardly a “boom”. And even if it was, the principle remains the same. Adults make a decision about the risk they choose to accept. It is none of Dr Heyworth’s business.

He told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat: “We know that the riders on these quad bikes are at real risk of serious injury and even death because they are seriously unprotected.”

“We know from experience that head injuries are the biggest killer in these sorts of accidents.”

Yes. And? So? They choose to accept the risk. That is their concern. If it kills them, well, they knew the risks. None of your business.

“So for goodness sake let’s protect these riders. It’s a simple bit of protection for them that will save lives.”

No. Let’s not. Let’s behave like adults and allow people to do as they are doing at the moment; make sensible decisions about the level of risk they choose to expose themselves to. It is not Dr Heyworth’s place or that of the state to “protect them”. They can choose to do that for themselves, being sentient adults.

And, naturally, they roll out a grieving relative to back their call for more control freakery:

Glamour model Amii Grove is keen to see helmets made compulsory after she lost her brother, Lee Marley, in a quad bike accident two years ago.

The 24-year-old told Newsbeat: “He had a head-on crash with a Land Rover. He died because of his head injuries.”

“So if it was compulsory to wear a helmet he would probably still be alive today.”

Possibly, possibly not. And, possibly, he would be a brain damaged quadriplegic. It’s a guessing game that we can all play, but tugging at the emotions is what these control freaks do when trying to use the sledgehammer of the law to protect us from ourselves.

There are no separate statistics on the numbers of quad bike crashes, but two particularly high-profile accidents have made headlines and brought the dangers to wider public attention.

Two accidents. That’s it. This risible bit of control freakery is being driven by two accidents. Those two accidents happened on private land where compulsory helmets wouldn’t have applied anyway.

That there are no separate statistics tells us all we need to know. They don’t know how big the problem is, or even if there is a problem, but these bastards want to do something about it anyway.


  1. Report taken from BBC website.

    Just love that bit at the end about Ozzy having a crash on one. Punctured lung and broken ribs. Yes, if only he’d been wearing a helmet, he would errrrm errrm errrm….

  2. And yet again those calling for legislation fail to factor in risk compensation. One wonders if they’ve ever heard of such a thing, or maybe they just pretend not to have.

  3. Yes, Ozzie’s accident is one of the two and he didn’t suffer head injuries. Maybe they will be arguing for compulsory body armour next?

    Dick, As you are aware, these zealots don’t let reason govern their thinking.

  4. XX I presume, of course, that this will apply to trikes, too.XX

    In a way, it DOES already.

    You can ride a trike without a helmet IF you have, and wear a seatbelt.

    If you don’t have/want a seat belt, you must wear a helmet, if I remember the report from MAG in “AWOL” and “Back Street Heroes” from all those years back correctly. (?)

  5. Wot?! Another AWoLly on the blog!

    Hail Teutonicus and well met Sir.

    And here’s another thing.

    My Grandfather died of TB in 1944. If only he’d been wearing a helmet instead of his flat cap turned back to front.

    Oh hang on, that doesen’t work either…..

    But if you want a REALLY daft helmet law, you must go to the land of my tropical hideaway, where not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle has just become a criminal offence. Thing is it only applies to the DRIVER of the vehicle and not his 5 passengers, which usually includes various babies, toddlers, kids of other sizes and the odd octogenarian Grandma. Brakes, lights and tire tread not necessary though. Neither is a driving/riding qualification of any sort.

    Happily it’s still possible to “pay the fine on the spot” not the best arrangement but at least one can get a little peace.

  6. I ride a trike and often without a helmet. I have found that when wearing a helmet I travel at consistently higher speeds. Having spoken to motorcyclists about this it appears that many use earplugs (dulling one of the senses?) allowing them to ride faster! The law on seatbelts and trikes only apply to rider or passenger not sitting astride the vehicle.
    Please leave us trikers and quad bike riders alone. We are not normal, we are still enjoying a little bit of freedom.

  7. I often wear earplugs on the bike. Not because I want to ride faster, but because I want to reduce the damage to my hearing. They have a curious effect; far from dulling the senses, they filter out the wind roar. I can still hear traffic noise. The big problem though is that on a long run, they become uncomfortable and cause headaches. A ride up through France last month became impossibly uncomfortable until I took them out.

  8. How about a compromise? If you refuse to wear a helmet on a trike or a quad and you have a crash then you cant use my taxes to pay for your healthcare?

    Thought not

  9. Nice try, but no cigar. They are not your taxes, they are our taxes. So people injured in the course of quad biking, like anyone injured conducting a potentially dangerous pursuit is merely claiming on the taxes they have paid.

  10. If you refuse to wear a helmet on a trike or a quad and you have a crash then you cant use my taxes to pay for your healthcare?

    Isn’t that a bit like me saying that “since I don’t have kids, you can’t use my taxes to pay for ‘your’ pregnancy grant, schools, child benefit, kiddies NHS care etc, etc.”

    Thought so.

  11. This one got through. It’s BC Spamblock. I really don’t know why it does this. I’ve tried switching it off again. Unfortunately, I will now get bombarded with spammy comments again. Can’t win.

  12. FYI – you only need a seatbelt on a trike if it is over a certain weight limit.

    Trouble is the law is an arse when it comes to the plethora of vehicles that are not ‘cars’ or ‘motorcycles’. Hence the silly requirement to wear a helmet in a BMW C1 in the UK – when the rest of Europe decree that it is a ‘cabin motorcycle’ . While the Ecomobile/Monotracer has been classed as a ‘car’ (four wheels on the ground at rest – it’s a car!) so you don’t need a helmet in the UK.

    Then you get manufacturers creating vehicles simply to bypass the helmet legislation – the Piaggio MP3 required a helmet as the front wheels were close enough to be considered as a single wheel (is that a hang-over from trucks or something?), so Piaggio made the MP3LT specifically with a wider track so helmet needed. Effectively the same vehicle though….

  13. If you refuse to wear a helmet on a trike or a quad and you have a crash then you cant use my taxes to pay for your healthcare?

    Where do you want that to end? If you cut yourself with a saw can I insist that my taxes don’t get used? Never mind the everyone pays in argument, there are pretty much no things humans can do to themselves by accident that you couldn’t wrap your twisted example around. It’s a silly argument.

Comments are closed.